The wind of change that has swept across the Canadian electoral landscape has ushered in a new era. There will be a majority government, and those who have long held the belief that Harper has a "hidden" right wing agenda will have an opportunity to see whether this is so. He will be able to get rid of the gun registry, build more prisons, pass draconian criminal laws, cut taxes for the wealthy and for big business, continue to develop the environmentally dangerous tar sands, cut social and cultural programmes, frustrate climate change debates, expand the military(spending billions buying fighter jets) and join USA and NATO in more wars and nation-building.
The NDP will be the Opposition, with a melange of new and inexperienced members. They will have the huge task of, first of all acquainting its members about parliament and how it works and then hold the Harper government accountable. This will be a task that will be difficult and fraught with danger, because it will expose the weaknesses of their caucus. There has never been an Opposition party with so few skilled and knowledgeable members facing off against a government (in 1984 when Mulroney won 208 seats and formed the government, he was beset with similiar problems of skills, experience and knowledge and it was a fiasco, with many cabinet ministers and MPs accused and some convicted of crimes). If the NDP are not quick learners, then this may well be their first and last hurrah. Layton and the senior members of the party will have to "babysit' them and keep them on a short leash.
The once proud Liberals have been reduced to a mere shell, with barely 30 or so seats. They suffered a similiar drubbing in 1984 and were able under the able leadership of Jean Chretien to come back and win a majority in 1993. They were helped in this by the scandals and incompetence of the Mulroney governemnt, as well as the general disgust and antipathy of the voters (in this election the Conservatives were dealt such a severe blow that they never recovered and they were absorbed by the Canadian Alliance/ Reform Party. This is the Ref/Con that won last night). Is this the fate that awaits the Liberals, to be absorbed by the NDP, described in the past as "Liberalas in a hurry"? This will be most interesting to watch...the Ref/Con on the right and the merged NDP/Lib on the left.
The Bloc Quebecois has run its course and their leader has stepped down. Ther is no coming back for them. They were formed from the chaos of the Meech Lake Accord and rode that "horse" for 20 years and had nothing else to offer. They became discordant and irrelevant and the sameness of their message has could incite the "new" generation, tuned in to social networks and more sophisticated than their parents and grandparents and their dream of separation. They know more and want more and have decided to go with the NDP, at least for the time being. They will move again if the NDP fail to deliver, but not to the Bloc or some reincarnation.
The leader of the Greens was elected. They have an opportunity to grow, but are fighting for the same voters as the NDP and that may be their undoing if the NDP can show that the are capable.
So here we are. The people have spoken, now let the governing begin.