What Did Stephen Harper Actually Win?
Date: Monday, February 06 2006
Topic: Canadian Politics
What Did Stephen Harper
By John Chuckman
There has been a lot of noise about the victory of Stephen Harper, leader of Canada's new Conservative party, but just what did he win?
Votes in the recent election for progressive parties - Liberals, New Democrats, and Bloc Quebecois (quite progressive on social issues) - went from 64.8% in the 2004 election to 58.2% in 2006, a handsome majority that would be rated a landslide in an American presidential election.
Harper's minority-government party went from 29.6% of the vote in 2004 to 36.3% in 2006, hardly a mandate for change, and certainly not revolutionary change. Even Conservative diehards, while blowing about victory, were perceptibly disappointed: you could almost hear the breath whistling through their teeth. The new Conservatives remain decidedly a minority party.
When we consider that the Liberals were divided by their change in leadership, plagued by scandals and rumors of scandals, and ran an unappealing campaign, the still-small vote for Conservatives gains is telling.