The Conservative Party has been in power since 2006, when it won a minority government with 36 percent of the vote and 124 of 308 seats in parliament. It took over with the support of* mostly-leftish BlocQuebecois. This was stable, but in 2008, the Conservatives were riding high in polls -- aided by the unpopularity of the Liberals' blundering leader Stephane Dion and the division of the Canadian left -- and called an election. They were set to win a majority, but then the financial crisis happened. They only won 38 percent of the vote and added 19 seats, forcing yet another minority government.
This election is happening because the Liberals, joined by the lefty New Democrats, brought down the government. Surprise -- voters are pissed. An Ipsos poll taken this week found 43 percent of voters backing the Conservatives if the Liberals pulled this stunt. That puts them in the position to win an overall majority. How do they do that with only 43 percent? Because theleft is still divided between three parties who cannibalize votes, and as happened in 2006 and 2008, it'll be possible for the Conservatives to scoop up seats in swing areas with pluralities.
As Dave predicted, Canadians have punished the fractured Left for its unpopular no-confidence vote, which dissolved the minority conservative government and forced a new election. The scheme has blown up in their faces; rather than rejecting the Tories and cobbling together a new, Left-leaning government, voters have chosen to send even more conservatives to Ottawa, allowing Stephen Harper's party to form its first majority government since 1988:
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his coveted majority government in elections Monday that also marked a shattering defeat for the opposition Liberals, preliminary results showed.
Harper, who took office in 2006, has won two elections but until now had never held a majority of Parliament's 308 seats, forcing him to rely on the opposition to pass legislation.
While Harper's hold on the 308-member Parliament has been tenuous during his five-year tenure, he has managed to nudge an instinctively center-left country to the right. He has gradually lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation, promoted Arctic sovereignty, upped military spending and extended Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.
Elections Canada reported preliminary results on its website, giving the Conservatives 164 seats, which will mean four years of uninterrupted government for Harper.
Harper campaigned on a message that the New Democrats stood for "higher taxes, higher spending, higher prices, [and] protectionism." He called the election a choice between "a Conservative majority" and "a ramshackle coalition led by the NDP that will not last but will do a lot of destruction."
UPDATE: Watch PM Harper's victory speech HERE.