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Conservatives win, New Democrats scramble

Jeff Smith

Canada's historic election--check outthis excellent commentary by Jack Lessenberry for his thoughts on coverage of the event in the United States--happened earlier this week, resulting in Stephen Harper's Conservative Party increasing their share of the Canadian government.

The Conservative government will be the first majority government in seven years.

The results are good news for Rick Snyder, as Harper and his party are expected to maintain their previous offer of $550 million to defray costs surrounding a new Detroit-Windsor bridge, which the governor supports.

MLive reports:

For the first time in seven years, Canada will have a majority government as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party won last night’s federal elections. The New Democratic Party, led by Jack Layton, finished second and will serve as the official opposition in the Ottawa Parliament. As had been expected, the result is unlikely to affect Canada’s offer to cover Michigan’s $550 million cost of the proposed Detroit-Windsor bridge known alternatively as the DRIC or NITC. It was Harper’s Conservative government that first made the offer last year, and they still support building the new bridge at almost any cost. Windsor Conservatives even used the bridge plan as a wedge issue, suggested that Liberal and NDP opposition was insufficiently enthusiastic for the project.

One of the most surprising results of the election, though, is the massive gains that the New Democratic Party made in the region of Quebec.

The Bloc Quebecois group, normally a powerhouse of the region, lost many of its seats, and the New Democratic Party picked a number of those seats up in the election.

The funny thing is, the NDP didn't expect to win so many seats, a situation leading to some unorthodox representatives--including a bartender, a 19-year old, and a former Communist Party supporter--who now find themselves as elected officials on their way to Ottawa.

The Atlantic Reports:

In Canadian parliamentary elections, national parties feel obliged to run candidates in all 308 seats -- including districts where their organizations are weak or non-existent. This often forces them to nominate "pylons," placeholders untroubled by any prospect of winning office. Background checks for such trivialities as past activities, writings, or beliefs tend to be cursory. Ah, but voters sometimes surprise, as Quebeckers did Monday when they turfed the separatist Bloc Quebecois and flocked instead to the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP). When the election was called six weeks ago, the NDP held only one of Quebec's 75 seats in the federal parliament. Now it holds 58 from that province alone, another 44 from the rest of Canada. After the election, NDP candidate Pierre-Luc Dusseault, 19, had planned to take up a summer job at a golf course before returning to the Universite de Sherbrooke for his second year in poly sci. Instead, he'll be going to Ottawa as Canada's youngest-ever MP -- at $157,731 per year. In Quebec's Pontiac riding, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon fell to Sensei Mathieu Ravignat, a karate instructor who sought the same seat in 1997 as an independent supporting the Communist Party. (It's one sign of the differences between Canadian and U.S. politics that this youthful indiscretion never became much of an issue in the campaign.) Ruth Ellen Brosseau won Berthier-Maskinonge, a French-speaking, rural riding northeast of Montreal, despite spending part of the campaign in Las Vegas, on a vacation trip booked before the election was called. The rest of the time she kept up her bartending job in Ottawa, a city three hours away--in a different province. Party officials declined to make Brosseau available for interviews because, well, her French needs work.

Oh, Canada.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom


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