Well, the Liberal campaign of calumny against “Scary Stephen” was a quiver of boomerangs and not nearly as successful as a year ago. Still, it worked slightly. The Tories lost a little ground in the last few days–it may have cost them ten to fifteen seats.
Can they win power in a year or two? Probably. For a start there will be an unofficial alliance between the Tories and the Bloc Quebecois to keep a stable Tory government going. That alliance will be joined by the NDP in order to hold scandal trials that will further weaken the Liberals even under a new squeaky-clean leader. All this could undermine the Liberal dominance in the short to medium term.
But there are warning signs too for the long term.
Until recently, one could say that Quebec was a major obstacle to a Tory victory in Canada. Without Quebec, a united Right could win a majority in most elections. That’s not so clear tonight. Not because the Tories made inroads in Quebec (though they did) but because in the rest of Canada the Tories could have been outvoted (in the popular vote) by a combination of the Liberals and left-wing NDP. It reminds me of the 2000 presidential election when Bush won with 48 percent of the vote when Gore plus Nader won 51 percent between them. Both north and south of the 59th parallel the conservative governing party is based on a shaky popular vote dominance. here did the Tory vote outside Quebec go?
In the failing Atlantic provinces it has gone to the Liberals who most plausibly promise to keep those government checks coming. In vote-rich Ontario and major cities like Toronto, Tories failed to gain seats they should have won because the immigrant vote split between the Liberals and the NDP. hat despite the fact that the Tories have been fervently pro-immigration under every Tory leader since Dieffenbaker. It seems that the immigrant voting bloc regards the Tories as the party of Old White Canada even when they pledge themselves wholeheartedly to multiculturalism. Prime Minister Harper will have to work out how to handle that problem.
Good news for the new government is that the Liberals lost despite a reasonably successful economy. The scandals did them in. Which means that the new government will have a good economic base from which to work–unless some discouraging new economic statistics suddenly surface.