Harper gets a majority, as New Democrats surge

Canada has re-elected the conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Conservative Party won 167 seats in Canada’s House of Commons. The New Democratic Party secures official opposition status with 102.

The results of the five-week election campaign brought the biggest surprise in recent Canadian memory.

The opposition Liberal Party was decimated, landing in third spot behind the New Democratic Party. The Liberals have never had such a disastrous result since the founding of Canada.

Since the start of the campaign, Harper, who has previously only won two minority governments, finally has a full majority. Canada has seen four elections in the last seven years. The Conservative majority now most likely means four more years until another election.

Despite his victory, the Conservatives did not win most of the popular vote. Speaking to his supporters in Calgary, Conservative leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his party must now take its majority to parliament, but not alienate those who did not vote for him.

“Canadians made this critically important decision today, friends. They chose hope, hope, unity of purpose and a strong Canada. And, because Canadians chose hope, we can now begin to come together again. As we must, as Canadians, as fellow citizens, friends and neighbors, for our part, we are intensely aware, that we are and must be the government of all Canadians, including those who did not vote for us,” said Harper.

Despite not winning government, New Democratic Party supporters are jubilant. They have nearly tripled the previous number of members in Canada’s House of Commons and are now the official opposition.

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton says he will meet with Harper in the next few days with hopes to bring more respect to debate in the Canadian parliament.

“We’re committed to making progress carefully and prudently, a practical step at a time — just as we have every time our party has assumed office in this country,” said Layton.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff even lost his own seat in a Toronto area race but said he will remain the party’s leader.

Bloc Quebecois party, which is dedicated to Quebec separating from Canada, is now eliminated from official status in Canada’s House of Commons.

The Green Party made a major breakthrough, with the win of leader Elizabeth May. The environmentally minded party put nearly all its resources in getting May elected in her race on Vancouver Island, despite running candidates in all of Canada’s 308 constituencies.

Discussion now moves to the possible merger of the Liberals and New Democrats. More than 60 percent of Canadians did not vote for Harper or his Conservative Party, splitting the vote in many races between the Liberals and the New Democratic candidate.

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