Canada elects conservative federal government

| 1/24/2006

A new political party has taken over leadership of the Canadian government.

The federal election was Monday, Jan. 23. The Conservative Party ousted the Liberal Party that had been in power for 13 years.

The Conservatives won 124 national districts, known as ridings. The Liberals won 103 ridings and the New Democratic Party won 29 ridings. In the province of Quebec, the French-speaking regions elected the Bloc Quebecois in 50 ridings.

Canada has a total of 308 ridings whose elected officials make up the House of Commons.

Time will tell how things will pan out for important issues that affect truckers such as trade, border security, regulations and small business.

Canadian analysts report in the Toronto Star that although a conservative government is taking power, the outcome of important issues may not be easy to predict.

The number of Liberal and New Democratic Party votes added together is greater than the number of seats won by the Conservatives, so the party in power is considered a “minority government.”

A minority government could find itself being out-voted on key House issues should the Liberals and NDPs form a coalition. Minority governments are common in Canada’s multi-party system, but there have only been a few formal coalitions formed in the past century.

The modern Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, formed just two years ago when two other parties, the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance, merged.

Harper would seem a likely choice to become prime minister as the new leadership takes the reins in the parliamentary process. In Canada, the governor general appoints the prime minister, who stays in power until defeat, resignation, or is replaced by the governor general.

Outgoing Prime Minister Paul Martin of the Liberal Party had a tough campaign, with the election ousting him from power just a year after record popularity in the polls.

Martin announced his retirement following the defeat, the Toronto Star reported.

-- David Tanner, staff writer