It's the day after the election. The celebrations have muted, the party supporters have grabbed a few hours sleep, and Canada has risen to a new political landscape.
If there is one lesson to be learned from Election 2011, it is this: be careful what you ask for.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives ended five years of minority rule as they achieved the majority victory they have long been asking for. No more pandering to the far left, no more kissing the collective asses of Quebec separatists. Harper repeatedly asked Canadians for a majority, citing the necessity of stability and the economic recovery. Canadians answered with an impressive 'yes'.
Questions will now arise from his own people - the centre-right - as to how Harper will govern. Will he continue to straddle the middle line of the political spectrum? Will he start to bring some old Reform policies into his agenda? Will he push through his party's omnibus crime bill that some believe is long overdue? Will his government amend the part of the bill, namely the section regarding monitoring the internet, that many on the right see as an infringement on free speech?
Given that fact that the Conservatives now have a stable four-plus years ahead of them, only time will tell.
The story of this election was the surge of the far-left New Democrat party. Riding the Orange Wave, the NDP made history by becoming the Official Opposition for the first time. It will be interesting to watch the Jack Layton-led party over the next few years. While party supporters go on about how their team presented a fantastic platform, closer inspection reveals that the rise of the Dippers can be attributed more to voters leaving other parties than specifically going to the NDP. In Quebec, voters left the Bloc Quebecois separatists in droves and found the NDP as their only leftwing choice.
In the rest of Canada, the NDP gains were a result of the implosion of the Liberals. Those factors, plus the obligatory anti-Harper fever that afflicts many on the left, gave Layton his success. This is a party whose candidates were so serious about receiving the honour of representing their constituents that some didn't campaign at all. Some even decided to take Vegas vacations instead of door knocking.
Either the new, accidental NDP M.P.s are going to get serious about their new jobs or this rise of socialism in Canada will be revealed as a mirage, a blip on the radar until the federal Liberals get their act together. Personally, I think we've seen the crest of the Orange wave which will recede come the next election.
The federal Liberals were one of the two Big Losers of the day. Leader Michael Ignatieff not only led his party to a defeat for the ages, he also felt the salt in the wound that comes with losing his own seat. While certainly intelligent and well-read, Ignatieff did not connect with Canadian voters in any way. What once was referred to as our 'Natural Governing Party' - the party of Pearson, Trudeau, and Chretien - is now in full damage control mode. The idea that all they have to do is find a good leader and all will be fine is out. They need to do a rip-down and rebuild. Ignatieff cannot be part of that. He asked for this election to happen, and now must deal with the consequences.
The Bloc Quebecois learned a hard lesson themselves as the other Big Loser of the day. The one-time voice of disenfranchised Quebecers has been all but silenced. The party, which amazingly held the position of Official Opposition long ago, managed to find only four seats remaining in the rubble. Claiming that Quebec voters wanted to give a federalist party 'one last chance', leader Gilles Duceppe learned that a political revolution cannot hang around for decades. Eventually the people start to look elsewhere, especially when those separatist 'revolutionaries' are collecting Canadian pensions. Duceppe quickly announced his resignation as party leader in his concession speech. Good riddance to him and his party.
I doubt it is 'historic', but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the first elected Green Party MP. Leader Elizabeth May won a seat in her B.C. riding, knocking off Conservative M.P. Gary Lunn. It's always good for democracy when a new voice is added to the mix, even if that voice is unrealistic in it's desires and a little screechy in it's tone.
Now our nation embarks on a era of stable government. Stephen Harper's Conservatives have been given the keys to the nation and have been told by Canadians to show us what they can do. The first 100 days will be a hive of activity for the Conservative government as they will be riding high on emotion and accomplishment, putting their platform into policy.
The biggest winners of Election 2011? Alberta. Faced with the threat of Liberal and NDP inspired Cap and Trade policies which would have devastated our economy, we now have a few years in which we can relax. The wolves have been driven from the door by a Conservative government that understands the value of the oil sands and aren't looking to pay off their Eastern promises with Western money.
In reality, all Canadians have won. Because of the majority victory, the seemingly endless cycle of election after election - five in eleven years - has been broken. Now we can get on with our lives while the Stephen Harper government gets on with leading the nation.