2011 Canadian Elections

Late Monday night, the Canadian Conservative party, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s leadership, won a majority government in the fourth parliamentary election in seven years. The previous three elections resulted in a Conservative minority government. In a parlimentary system, a party may have the most seats in parliamenPrime Minister Stephen Harper celebrating his 2011 election victory with a mandate from the people to form a majority government.t but still have less than 50% and therefore this minority goverment require votes from other parties to pass legislation. Yesterday’s Conservative victory will lead to improved U.S.-Canada relations because the Conservative party has always been supportive of Canada’s (and America’s) largest trade partner. The Conservative party is much more free trade oriented than other parties and wants to work with the United States to form a common North American security border.

The majority victory by Canada’s Conservative party was due, in large part, to a late surge by Canada’s National Democratic Party (the NDP) which is now the official opposition party. The NDP surge split the left vote between them and the Liberal Party (Canada’s historic opposition and ruling party). On election night, les Québécois delivered on their historical reputation of changing their votes en masse. The Bloc Quebecois, Canada’s Quebec separatist party, lost 43 seats to the NDP party in Quebec. The Liberal party also lost 43 seats (there are only 308 seats in parliament). The leaders of the Liberal Party and the Bloc Quebecois, Michael Ignatieff and Giles Duceppe, both stepped down after their electoral thrashing at the hands of the NDP.

This is a unique time in Canadian politics because this new parliament will have the largest ideological difference between the ruling party and the official opposition in Canada’s Parliamentary history. The NDP, Canada’s farthest left political party, are the official opposition to the Conservatives (Canada’s right-most party). Despite this spread, I expect the next four to five years of Conservative rule to be very beneficial to both Canada and the United States.

Stuart A. Allan