by Charles Lemos, Tue May 03, 2011 at 03:13:45 AM EDT
In Canada's parliamentary elections, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a majority in the House of Commons. PM Harper, who first 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.
Polls had predicted another hung parliament but Harper's Conservatives did exceedingly well in Alberta, the Prairies, the Maritimes and in most surprisingly of all in metro Toronto in a stunning and historic sea-change election. The Conservatives, formerly shunned by Toronto voters, won nearly half of the seats in that city, twice as many as the Liberals.
Elections Canada reported preliminary results on its website, giving the Conservatives 167 seats based on 39.6 percent of the popular. Canada has a first-past-the-post system. One hundred and fifty-five seats are required to form a majority.
Harper will now be able to press forward with his conservative agenda that seeks to transform a traditionally center-left country into a more right-wing country. During his five years in power, Harper has lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation, increased military spending and extended Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.
For the Liberal Party, the elections were an unexpected and serious debacle. Long the dominant Canadian party, the Liberals are projected to win just 34 seats on 18.9 percent of the popular vote down from 26 percent in the last election. This is the poorest showing in the party's history with party leader Michael Ignatieff losing his Toronto-based seat. The party failed to win a seat in any of Canada's vast western provinces and saw its share of seats in the Maritimes cut in half. Only in Newfoundland, Canada's poorest province, did the Liberals fare well.
The Liberals' falls was a gain for the left of centre New Democrats (NDP). The New Democrats led by Jack Layton are projected to become the main opposition party for the first time in Canadian history with 102 seats on 30.9 percent of the vote. In addition, the Green party has won a seat for the first time ever. Nationwide, the Greens captured 4.8 percent of the popular vote.
The separatist Bloc Québécois also fared poorly winning just 4 seats on 6.1 percent of the popular vote. In Quebec, 18 years of Bloc Québécois dominance crumbled as the NDP was elected in 58 of 75 of the province electoral districts known as ridings.
More from Toronto's Globe and Mail.