Canada: Conservatives Win Majority of Parliament in Elections

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 3, 2011   |   11:04AM   |   Ottawa, Canada

Conservative Party candidates in Canada won a majority of the seats in Parliament in Tuesday’s elections, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s party defeating Liberals and gaining 164 of 308 seats.

Although Harper has opposed pro-life legislation and said his government would not push any bills limiting abortions, the results could allow pro-life backbencher MPs to obtain more support for bills that could offer some protection for unborn children.

Canadians voted on Monday in the country’s fourth general election in seven years. The election was such a strong result for Conservatives that the NDP took the Liberal Party’s historic place as official opposition — pushing aside the Liberals to a third place finish. The results were the first time in Canadian history that the Liberal party did not win the elections or place as a second highest ranking party in terms of the number of MPs elected.

Harper had been the head of minority governments after the elections of 2006 and 2008, but now his party has an absolute majority in the House of Commons. Conservatives picked up enough seats in Toronto and the suburban areas around the city while Liberals were only able to hold on to seats in Quebec majorities in the tiny provinces of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island as well as seats in historic Liberal areas like Nova Scotia and central Toronto. Party leader Michael Ignatieff lost his Etobicoke Lakeshore seat in the Toronto suburbs.

“It’s tough to lose like this,” the Liberal leader said. “Defeat is a teacher and now we have to learn the lesson of defeat and look at ourselves in the mirror.”

New Democrats surged to second place mostly by replacing the Bloc Quebecois in a good number of seats in the French-speaking province. As a result, BQ will only have a handful of seats in the new parliament and will lose its status as a national party. NDP leader Jack Layton was exuberant about his party becoming the second place one, saying, “Spring is here, my friends, and a new chapter begins.”

As a result of the Liberal Party and BQ losses, Canada moves more towards a two-party dominated system in the American style of politics and away from the multi-party parliament that most nations in South America and Europe have.

Some analysts are seeing the results as a potential omen or predictor for the 2012 presidential election in the United States — in terms of a potential second part of the conservative backlash against pro-abortion Democratic President Barack Obama.

Before the elections, a debate over abortion started when comments Conservative MP Brad Trost made at the Saskatchewan Pro-life Association convention came to light where he suggested the federal government has decided to deny funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation abortion business. After a lengthy debate over funding the abortion giant in the United States, the comments drew an immediate controversy in the Canadian press.

Officially, the Canadian government has neither accepted nor denied a request from the abortion business for $18 million in taxpayer funding to promote and perform abortions across the globe.

Harper responded to the dust-up by saying the Conservative government will never endorse pro-life legislation as long as he is the Prime Minister.

“As long as I’m prime minister, we are not reopening the abortion debate,” he said. “The government will not bring forward any such legislation, and any such legislation that is brought forward will be defeated. This is not the priority of the Canadian people, or of this government. The priority is the economy. That’s what we’re going to focus on.”

“In our party, as in any broadly based party, there are people with a range of views on this issue,” he told reporters, and would not answer a question about his own views on abortion, saying, “My position is I’m not opening this debate. I don’t want it opened, I have not wanted it opened, I haven’t opened it as prime minister. I’m not going to open it. The public doesn’t want to open it. It’s not the priority of the Canadian public or this government, and it will not be.”

Harper voted against a modest bill in the Parliament that would have provided protection for women and unborn children who are victims of violent crimes outside the context of abortion.