Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Indecision '08

Canada held a federal general election yesterday, and for the third consecutive time, no party won a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Conservative leader Stephen Harper will remain as prime minister, as head of another minority government.

There are 308 seats in the House of Commons, so a party would need to win 155 of them to have a majority. The 2008 results by party are:

Conservative 143

Liberal 76

Bloc Quebecois 50

New Democrat 37

Independent 2

Comparing these results to those of the previous general election, in 2006, the Liberals lost 27 seats, and the Bloc Quebecois lost one. On the other hand, the Conservatives gained 19, the New Democrats 8, and there was one more independent. (I'm using the general election results from 2006 as my point of comparison, although those totals had shifted somewhat in the meantime.)

The biggest loss in one province was for the Liberals in Ontario, a loss of 16 seats. They lost four in British Columbia, three in New Brunswick, and six in other provinces and territories. The Liberals gained 2 seats in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Conservatives gained 11 in Ontario, five in British Columbia, three in New Brunswick, and four elsewhere. They lost three in Newfoundland and Labrador, and one in the prime minister's home province of Alberta, where the New Democrats broke the Conservatives' monopoly on seats.

The Conservatives and the Liberals broke even in Quebec. The New Democrats gained one seat there, at the expense of the Bloc.

Conventional wisdom was that the Conservatives would have needed significant gains in Quebec, in addition to the seats they did pick up in Ontario, in order to amass a majority. Commentators point to Harper's opposition to federal arts funding, which among other things subsidizes projects involving French-language culture in Quebec, as his major mistake in his campaign to woo Quebec voters.

It is widely believed that Stephane Dion will be replaced as Liberal leader. As an introverted academic, he doesn't seem to have what it takes to be an effective party leader. So far, at least, he has given no indication that he will resign, but observers expect the party to make a move, once things cool down a bit.
Photo: Library of Parliament

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