What now?

It was amazing to watch the federal election results roll in last Monday night.

It was amazing to watch the federal election results roll in last Monday night.

We got the apparent destruction of not one, but two parties. And the vaulting of the perennial third into the position of official opposition by a wide margin.

After it was all over, the Bloc Quebecois had been obliterated and the Liberals – the “natural governing party” – lay in ruins, a distant third.

While I listened to Liberal supporters talk in terms of comebacks and “don’t underestimate the Liberal Party”, I was put in mind of the 1923 general election in Britain, one which saw the Labour Party (the New Democrats by another name) burst on to the scene.

That essentially was the beginning of the end of the Liberal Party as an effective force in British politics, even if they did suffer a long and lingering death.

So is that what we have seen here, the beginning of the slippery slope to oblivion for the Grits?

And, with the New Democrats becoming the official opposition, the beginning of a transformation to an essentially two-party system?

Or is this just a blip?

I suspect we are going to have to wait four years for the answers.

And it will be Quebec that supplies them.

As stunning as the NDP Orange Crush was in La Belle Provence, it must be remembered Quebec voters are a volatile bunch.

The Conservative sweep under Brain Mulroney and the subsequent volte face to the Bloc Quebecois demonstrate that.

Quebec knows what Quebec wants, and they are mighty unforgiving of those who fail to deliver.

Clearly voters had given up on the Bloc and, having no apparent love for the Liberals or Conservatives, stampeded to the only one left (excuse the pun).

Frankly, the scale of the revolt was such that the NDP could have run a chimpanzee and it would have got in with a four figure majority. And that’s a pretty fragile base.

The challenge for the NDP will be three-fold: trying to figure out exactly what Quebec does want; how it, as an opposition party, can deliver; and in the meantime how it is going to deal with a caucus where suddenly it is the johnny-come-latelys who have the majority.

Meanwhile Stephen Harper has the comparatively simple task of just governing since, whatever the future might hold, this night he was the winner.

 

Northern Sentinel

 

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