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Analysis & Commentary

Election Day Analysis

CBC.ca's Reality Check Team – Ira Basen, John Gray, Robert Sheppard and Karin Marley – posted their thoughts on election day developments as they unfolded, Monday, Jan. 23, 2006.

» Analysis and commentary on actual results began at 10 p.m. EST.
2:06 a.m. EST

Stephen Harper delivers his election speech, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006. (CP photo)  

We have now reached the hour on election night when the party leaders come out of their hiding places to give thanks and claim great victories, surrounded by cheering throngs and loyal family and friends. It seems almost churlish to do a reality check now on who really won and lost tonight, but let's give it a try. Here's a question to ponder....two days ago, if you had asked the party leaders how they would feel about tonight's result, how would they have reacted?

The Conservatives would obviously be thrilled about winning the election. There is only one real winner on election night, and that is the person who will be sleeping at 24 Sussex Dr.. But there is no doubt that as the campaign neared its conclusion, Conservative strategists were looking for a much healthier minority than they got tonight, and a more robust share of the popular vote than the roughly 36% that they received, approximately the same percentage as Joe Clark received in 1979. Their disappointment would be compounded when the party's extraordinary rebound in Quebec is factored in. The Conservatives increased their popular vote in Quebec from 8.8% to 24.7% and their seats from zero to ten. Few would have expected that the party would enjoy a net gain of only fifteen seats in English Canada.

And despite the enthusiasm emanating from Jack Layton's headquarters tonight, NDP strategists would also be dismayed at learning they would be gaining only ten new seats and upping their popular vote by less than 2%. They were certainly hoping for better on both fronts.

The Bloc's fall from grace has been remarkable. Who at the beginning of this campaign would have guessed that the Bloc would end up with fewer seats and a six percent decline in their popular vote?

As for the Liberals, two days ago, had you offered them 30% of the vote and 103 seats in nine provinces, most would have dropped to their knees in gratitude.

But the biggest winners tonight were a group of people who needed a big comeback after flaming out badly in the last campaign. It was a very good night for pollsters, especially the folks who do the polling for CPAC-SES. They nailed all four party totals right on the button. Less successful, but still better than last time, were pollsters Allan Gregg and Ipsos. They were both about 2% too high for the NDP and 2 % too low for the Liberals, but still within the margin of error. Pollsters are this year's comeback kids. —IB
2:05 a.m. EST

When he finally appeared to the country that had just elected him prime minister, Stephen Harper was a man who looked as though he was there to claim his just reward. Not arrogant but relieved, he and his wife Laureen smiled their way through a jumble of eager clutching hands.

The West had wanted in and the West had arrived, and for those who scanned the crowd on television there was Preston Manning, smiling the indulgent smile of a teacher who is relieved that an indulged student has not turned out too badly.

His message was simple. First there was the gesture of prime ministerial reconciliation, a thanks to Paul Martin for his service to the Canadian people, then recognition of the solid and honourable campaigns led by Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe.

There were also a few points to make. Insistently he talked of Canada as "sovereign, strong, united and free," and "strong, united, independent and free." This was the man who had been repeatedly accused of pursuing an American agenda, of marching in lockstep with George W. Bush. So he returned to what was perhaps a sore point in promising that his would be "a change of government, not a change of country."

The time to pass judgment on his efforts will come soon enough. For the moment the Harper era is underway. —JG
1:45 a.m. EST

What will happen if the same-sex marriage issue comes up for a free vote? It will be a nail biter – of that we can be sure. Of the 31 Liberals running this election who voted against the same-sex marriage bill last year, 26 were re-elected. All five Bloc MPs who also voted no are going back to Ottawa. However, the same goes for the three Conservatives who voted in favour of the same-sex bill.

There are nearly 70 new faces in Parliament, meaning there is quite a bit of room for change. Of those, 38 are Conservative, 12 NDP, seven Liberals and one Independent. Assuming the newbies vote on side with their parties, this would put the count at 155 supporters of same-sex marriage and 152 voting against, with an Independent wild card. With those kinds of numbers, the vote isn't likely to get to Parliament any time soon. —KM
12:26 a.m. EST

Stephen Harper catches a break: Paul Martin stands up to thank his family and the voters of Lasalle and announces he won't be leading the Liberals into the next election. A not unexpected development, except possibly for the timing – very few defeated leaders actually resign on election night – Martin's move seems to be well received by all the TV pundits and even his own party. No one in the hall tries to talk him out of it.

The resignation of course is a godsend for the Conservatives. With fewer seats than the Liberals had in the last Parliament, Harper now has a grace period when the Liberals will be searching about for a leader, within which to carry forward perhaps even some of his more controversial policies. —RS
12:24 a.m. EST

It is well known that Sheila Martin is not a big fan of politics, nor of life in Ottawa. In that, she reminds longtime political observers of Lester Pearson's wife Maryon. On election night 1958, when Pearson's Liberals were crushed by John Diefenbaker's Conservatives, Pearson won his own seat but little else. Maryon Pearson was heard to lament, "We've lost everything. We even won our own constituency." Sheila Martin was probably feeling the same tonight, until her husband chose to put her out of her misery. Some wives have all the luck. —IB

12:20 a.m. EST

She's been ridiculed for talking about KKK crosses burning on the lawns of northern B.C. when there were never any such incidents. But Hedy Fry will go down in the folklore of Canadian elections as something of a giant-killer.

She shot to fame in 1993 by putting the ill-starred, then-leader of the Conservative party, Kim Campbell, out of her misery. She follows this up tonight in Vancouver Centre by defeating the larger than life Svend Robinson as he was trying for a comeback.

Svend, of course, had done himself no little damage with his shoplifting antics a couple of years ago. Adding insult to injury, his NDP held on to his old seat in Burnaby-Douglas, a riding he has held since he was barely out of law school. —RS
11:56 p.m. EST

"Well we have a leader, Paul Martin, and I'm looking forward to working with Mr. Martin." That was Belinda Stronach answering a reporter's question on her election victory about whether she had bigger plans, ie. to run for the Liberal leadership.

Decoded, yup, she's interested. (The clue is in the robotic tone of the response.) One big obstacle of course: she ran for the leadership of the Conservative party, and was even quite instrumental behind the scenes bringing the old Tories and the Alliance together. Think Liberal delegates are going to trust someone like her with their party's fortunes? Well, if she can win maybe. —RS
11:49 p.m. EST

The NDP has finally established a beachhead in downtown Toronto – not quite as large a beachhead as they had hoped, but there will be no complaints at NDP HQ tonight. In 2004, Jack Layton broke the Liberal stranglehold in Toronto when he won Riverdale riding. Tonight he is joined by his wife, former city councillor Olivia Chow, and long-time CAW activist Peggy Nash. The NDP had their sights on two other seats, but the Liberals were able to hang on to those. Chow and Jack Layton now become the second husband and wife team to serve in the House of Commons together. Here's hoping they fare better than last year's power couple, Mr. and Mrs. Grewal. —IB

11:47 p.m. EST

Harper's Ontario roundup wasn't as bountiful as he was obviously hoping for – the Liberals held on to over 50 seats and the NDP made some gains as well. But the Conservative leader made a clean sweep of the three former Mike Harris cabinet ministers he had running for him.

John Baird took his suburban Ottawa seat, the only pickup for the Tories in that area. Jim Flaherty, the former finance minister, won in Whitby, on the outskirts of Toronto. And Tony Clement, the former health minister, won a squeaker in the cottage country riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka.

For Clement, who beat Liberal Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell by all of 25 votes, this was his first election win in four tries – two of them being leadership runs, one against Harper for the leadership of the federal Conservatives.

Not that this will be held against him, of course. Well, probably not anyway. All three amigos are possible cabinet material. Clement was health minister during the Harris years, a difficult portfolio even at the best of times. And for a new government clearly short of experienced ministerial bodies – and looking eventually to making more gains in Ontario – these guys have to be high on Harper's short list.

Both Flaherty and Baird could be considered Harris proteges. And the former premier is sure to try to advance their causes. But they are not without their political baggage. Flaherty, in running for the provincial leadership (he did this twice actually), even promoted the idea that governments make homelessness illegal. He would have appointed special constables to roust homeless people off the streets and try to force them into shelters. —RS
11:38 p.m. EST

Two very tight races in Manitoba that will continue well into the evening. The first is in Churchill, which was won last time by the NDP's Bev Desjarlais, who was thrown out of the NDP caucus after voting against the same-sex marriage bill. This campaign she is running as an Independent. The NDP candidate is Niki Ashton, and the Liberal candidate is popular native actress Tina Keeper, one of the few politicians in the country with genuine star power (as defined by people asking for autographs on the campaign trail). So all three women have a legitimate shot at winning, and the riding has been going back and forth all evening. Tina Keeper currently has a slim lead.

And a surprisingly close race in Winnipeg South where Treasury Board President Reg Alcock is getting a scare from Conservative candidate Rod Bruinooge. —IB

*Note: Liberal Tina Keeper wins Churchill and Conservative Rod Bruinooge wins Winnipeg South.
11:23 p.m. EST

Well the Conservatives swept Calgary and Edmonton, barring a last-minute rise from defeat by "Landslide Anne" McLellan. [*Note: McLellan loses her seat to Conservative Laurie Hawn] They didn't do so well in the other large urban centres.

The Liberals and Bloc split Montreal's main seats. And the Liberals and NDP shared the wealth in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada's other two largest cities.

Pundits can make too much of this kind of urban-rural split, of course. Harper's Conservatives are certainly no rubes and they have a lock on many of the large bedroom communities that surround the big centres. So they know something of what urban issues are all about.

Still, expect this to be the kind of split that the opposition will focus on in the next Parliament. Especially perhaps the issues that flow from them such as transit, Kyoto, gun crimes and, one of the big ones, same-sex marriage. —RS
11:23 p.m. EST

When the Liberals recruited Marc Garneau to be a candidate in Vaudreuil-Soulanges they could legitimately claim they had a star candidate - the first Canadian astronaut to travel in space. But the Liberals did not give their star a gift. The Bloc Québécois had a firm grip on the riding and the Bloc was not about to let go. The result was that the star sputtered. Garneau, who had to quit his job with the Canadian space agency, is in search of work. —JG

11:20 p.m. EST

Call it a sweep! The CBC language police, which prohibits the use of the word "sweep" unless one party wins 100% of the seats, would have no objection to applying the "s" word to tonight's result in Alberta. The Conservatives took all 28 ridings in the province, sweeping away even deputy premier Anne McLellan, whose string of near-misses in Edmonton Centre appears to have finally come to an end. —IB

11:19 p.m. EST

So much for waiting up for B.C. results. This election was declared a Conservative minority just 10 minutes after the polls closed in Lotusland. (CTV called it first. Blame it on them. Blame it on them.)

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh won his seat and the NDP are looking to gain as many as seven new seats, something that had been predicted at the outset as the party was riding a strong wave of resurgence at the provincial level.

B.C. was a tough three-way fight for the major parties. In fact both Martin and Layton made a mad dash to the West Coast on the last day of campaigning to try to wring as much support as they could. The Conservatives are looking to lose six ridings. They had held 22 before the writ was dropped. —RS

11:08 p.m. EST

It's now official! The big losers tonight are bellwether ridings. Today, the Globe and Mail identified ten ridings that have consistently voted for the winning side. But so far tonight, only two of the ten have jumped on the Conservative bandwagon, six stuck with the Liberals, and two remain up in the air. So, congratulations to the people of Sarnia-Lambton and Peterborough, for being so politically astute. As for the rest of you, you have some 'splainin' to do. —IB

11 p.m. EST

The GTA looked like fertile ground for the Conservatives this time around. The Liberals have had a lock on the region for decades, particularly downtown Toronto. But the 905 belt on Toronto's fringes, which had solidly backed Mike Harris in two provincial elections in the 1990s, seemed poised to join the Conservative tide tonight. But it didn't happen. The highest profile Liberal in the region, Belinda Stronach, won with surprising ease. In fact, high-profile Conservatives-turned-Liberal, Stronach and Scott Bryson, both of whom thought to be in tough fights, enjoyed relatively easy victories, which can only encourage other turncoats in the future.

High profile Conservative candidate Peter Kent, a former CBC and Global TV anchor, went down to a resounding defeat in his political debut in Toronto St. Paul's. Bev Oda, a potential Heritage Minister in the new government won re-election in Durham. The Conservatives had fewer women candidates than the other parties, and it will be a challenge for Harper to ensure women are well represented around the Cabinet table. And beleaguered star Liberal candidate Michael Ignatieff, who had to battle divisions within his own party as well as a tough Conservative opponent, held on to Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Few rookies have had to endure such a baptism by fire, and the murmurs about his leadership potential will begin in the morning. —IB

10:59 p.m. EST

With the Liberals heading for a fall, there are probably a number of senior public servants in Ottawa who are wondering whether they should be looking for other work. In theory public servants are not creatures of party politics, but it almost always happens that politicians who are out of power are suspicious of public servants who are at least instruments of power.

Thus Stephen Harper in the dying days of the campaign made it clear that he thought that public servants promoted by Liberals might as well be regarded as Liberal loyalists. Unfair, perhaps, but that's politics.

It has been freely speculated in Ottawa in recent weeks that the most senior of public servants, Clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb, will be leading the job search in the next few weeks. Before he joined the public service in 1981 Himelfarb was a professor of sociology at the University of New Brunswick. —JG

10:55 p.m. EST

Ontario's electoral map is going to look a bit like a big splat of Neapolitan ice cream. Orange on the top, with the NDP in at least one, it looks like two, northern ridings. Conservative blue through much of the middle and Liberal red in the Big Smoke of Toronto. (With a smudge of NDP orange in T.O. as well).

The Liberals lose a bundle in Ontario. Of course they had 75 of its 106 seats before. Still, overall, they're keeping their heads up and currently have more seats than the Conservatives did in the last Parliament.

Oops. Defeated Sarnia Liberal Roger Gallaway just called for Martin's resignation. —RS

10:48 p.m. EST

It appears that the NDP's attempt to replace one old party warhorse named Ed with another old party warhorse named Ed seems to have floundered in Selkirk-Interlake. With Ed Broadbent cashing in his chips in Ottawa Centre, the NDP pulled former Manitoba premier and former governor-general of Canada Ed Schreyer out of retirement. But he was in a tough riding that has sent a Reform, a Canadian Alliance and a Conservative member to Parliament in the last three elections. Mind you, this was the same riding that Schreyer's son Jason ran for the NDP in 1993. He lost too. —IB

10:36 p.m. EST

It's a weird system we have here. The Liberals watch their seats slip away in southwestern and middle Ontario even as they lead their main rivals, with the numbers starting to pour in, in the popular vote.

The Liberals look to lose about 23 seats in riding rich Ontario, even though their share of the popular vote sags a modest seven per cent or so.

Few of the seat changes are surprises. With the exception perhaps of Roger Gallaway in Sarnia, one of the last of the Liberal curmudgeons and a former local mayor who has held on to that seat since 1993.

The Conservatives look to gain about 16 Ontario seats outside the Toronto area from the rich farm and industrial areas around Hamilton, Guelph and London right up through the central cottage country area.

The NDP are making gains too. A modest three per cent hike for them in the popular vote seems to be bringing in new seats in the Hamilton area and the North. —RS

10:32 p.m. EST

The riding of Beauce, southwest of Quebec City, carries much of the political history of Quebec. For more than 50 years until 1945 it was Liberal; after that Beauce became something of a rollercoaster – back and forth between Independent, Social Credit, Progressive Conservative. But by the measure of the results of the last election, yesterday's vote should have been a toss-up between the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois. The Liberals had won 41 per cent and the Bloc 36, with the Conservatives way back at 17. But when the votes were counted it was the Conservative Maxime Bernier who was at the top of the poll. The son of a former Conservative MP, Gilles Bernier, the new MP is seen as a probable candidate for a Stephen Harper cabinet.

Another probable addition to the Harper cabinet is another improbable Conservative victor. Lawrence Cannon, an aide to Stephen Harper and a former provincial Liberal cabinet minister, took the riding of Pontiac, which has gone Conservative only twice since 1965. The Conservatives managed to get 22 per cent of the vote in 2004 but only really enthusiastic Conservatives thought Cannon could catch Liberal David Smith who got 38 per cent of the vote 17 months ago.

If Harper is still eager for Quebec ministers he may also turn to Josee Verner, another Harper aide who took the Quebec City riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent from the Bloc Québécois. —JG

10:17 p.m. EST

Oh boy. It's a full six minutes after the CBC decision desk declares a Conservative minority and former Liberal minister John Manley concedes on national TV that Paul Martin will have to reflect long and hard on whether he wants to continue as party leader.

That's political code to say Martin has very little choice but to move along.

Manley is occasionally touted as a possible leadership candidate himself (though many of his key former backers are now working for Michael Ignatieff, the Harvard star who is seeking election in Etobicoke-Lakeshore). Manley also makes the point that this may not be an easy minority to make work. There are not the natural alignments for the Conservatives as there are between, say, the Liberals and the NDP in a minority situation. —RS

10:13 p.m. EST

Ten minutes after we're allowed to broadcast across the country and the TV networks are forecasting a minority Conservative government. It happens so quick it's hard to tell who was first off the mark. (Some people at least keep track of these things.)

It also happens as the Liberals are still leading in, at least for the moment, in the national vote. —RS

10:10 p.m. EST

It was a turning point in the campaign when the RCMP announced they were opening a formal investigation into the income trust announcement. In fact that's when the Conservatives began to jump ahead in the opinion polls.

But it doesn't appear to have shaken the popularity – at least in Regina – of Liberal MP Ralph Goodale.

The only Liberal – the only non-Conservative elected in Saskatchewan the last time out – Goodale was easily re-elected in his Wascana riding.

The Mounties did say they had no information linking him to stock market activity just in advance of his much anticipated announcement not to tax popular income trusts. It may be of some consolation to him at least that he gets to continue to defend himself from his seat in Parliament. On the oppositon benches at least. —RS

10:02 p.m. EST

New Brunswick

There were several ridings of interest in New Brunswick this evening. The first is Fredericton, where long time Liberal cabinet minister Andy Scott has held the seat since 1993. But the riding has deep Conservative roots. It was held by the Conservatives from 1957 until Scott's victory in the Conservative meltdown of 1993. The second interesting riding is Tobique-Mactaquac, also held by a Liberal named Andy, in this case, Andy Savoy. This riding also goes both ways, politically speaking. It was Liberal from 1993 to 1997, then Conservative from 1997 to 2000. Savoy won the seat in 2000 and again in 2004. The Conservatives targeted both the Andys in this campaign. They failed to unseat Andy Scott, who won with surprising ease, but they did knock off Andy Savoy in a close fight.

A surprisingly close fight in Madawaska-Restigouche. The seat has been held by the Liberals since 1997. In the last election, Liberal J.C. D'Amours won by almost 6000 votes over the NDP and 6500 over the Conservative candidate. But tonight, Conservatives Jean-Pierre Oulette fought D'Amours all the way to the wire.

Another close race in Saint John, where the well-connected Liberal lobbyist and lawyer Paul Zed hung on to his seat in a close race. This seat was the long-time domain of former Saint John Mayor Elsie Wayne, who even survived the wipe-out of 1993. This is Zed's fifth run for federal office. He's now won three times and lost twice.

Another contest that was closely watched was in Miramichi, but only because the Globe and Mail identified it today as another "bellwether" riding. Since 1980, it has voted with the winning party in every election but one. The Liberals held Miramichi easily tonight, but like Cardigan in P.E.I., its reputation as a bellwether may be about to take a hit.

When all is said and done, the final results in New Brunswick were six Liberals, two Conservatives, and one NDP, a swing of one seat from the Liberals to the Conservatives. —IB

10:02 p.m. EST

For those keeping score on the contentious issues, here is how the issue of same-sex marriage was reflected in the vote out East. Of the seven Liberals in the Atlantic Canada who voted against same-sex marriage, six were re-elected. Only Liberal Andy Savoy of Tobique-Mactaquac in New Brunswick lost his seat to Conservative Mike Allen.

Gerald Keddy, the only Conservative in Atlantic Canada who voted for same-sex marriage, kept his seat. —KM

10:01 p.m. EST

From the first report it was clear that, as expected, Peter MacKay would have no trouble holding on to Central Nova. With the exception of the blip in 1993 when the Tories collapsed across the country, Central Nova has been solidly Conservative for half a century.

Central Nova has the distinction of having served as a temporary home base for Brian Mulroney after he won the Conservative leadership in 1983. Elmer MacKay, Peter's father, stepped aside to give Mulroney a seat in the Commons until the 1984 general election. Elmer returned to the Commons and served as a Mulroney minister.

The question now for Tory leader Stephen Harper is whether MacKay, who is now deputy leader of the partty, will be asked to be deputy prime minister. There has been speculation that Harper might opt to have his deputy prime minister from Quebec - if there is a Quebec Tory MP of sufficient stature. —JG

10:01 p.m. EST

A lot of fellow Nova Scotians wondered whether Gerald Keddy had finished his own political career by voting in favour of same-sex marriage in the House of Commons - one of just three Conservative MPs to do so. It was not regarded as a great career-enhancing move. But the voters of South Shore-St. Margaret's returned the 52-year-old to Ottawa for the fourth time. —JG

10:01 p.m. EST

What is the difference between being a turncoat and pluckily independent? Hard to say, except that after Scott Brison deserted the Conservative caucus in the Commons and bolted to the Liberals, a lot of people said that the voters of Kings-Hants would regard Brison as a turncoat. That's possible, but in the 2004 election Kings-Hants treated Brison like a guy who is pluckily independent, giving him a whopping 46 per cent of the vote. Now, once more, it seems that the voters of Kings-Hants are rejoicing in Brison's independence.

Although his own voters ensured that Brison is heading back to Ottawa, the voters in the rest of the country will decide if the Liberals are returned to power and Brison resumes his place at the cabinet table as minister of public works.

Also undecided is the fate of Liberal Leader Paul Martin. If and when Martin retreats from politics, Brison will be one of those considered as possible leadership material. —JG

10 p.m. EST

No New Democrat can be absolutely certain of election, but Alexa McDonough comes as close to certainty as you can get. As she headed into Monday's election, McDonough had won seven federal and Nova Scotian elections and she had led both the federal and provincial parties. So it was a surprise when the first few polls suggested McDonough might be in trouble, and no surprise at all when she shook off those first reports and emerged once more as a winner.

McDonough had held Halifax by barely 1,000 votes in 2004, one of those results that's a little too close for comfort. That was the reason the NDP campaign went all out to persuade the more than 12,000 students in the Halifax riding to vote where they go to school rather than in their hometowns. In the end, it may have been the student votes that returned McDonough to Ottawa. —JG

10 p.m. EST


At some point tonight, several commentators will try to make some twisted analogy about the red clay of P.E.I. and the red tide sweeping the province's politics tonight. I have no contribution to make on this front, I just wanted to acknowledge that the challenge is out there, and others are welcome to pick it up.

At the CBC, there is a rule that reporters are not allowed to use the word "sweep", unless one party wins every single one of the seats in the province or region under discussion. So, P.E.I. is our first sweep of the evening, with the Liberals maintaining the iron grip they've held on this province since the 1980s. Will there be other sweeps? Alberta is certainly a possibility. Our three territories will be sweeps for sure. But does it count if there is only seat? Is it possible to say one party has swept Nunavut? We may need a ruling on that one.

According to today's Globe and Mail, the riding of Cardigan in P.E.I. is a "bellwether" riding. Since 1972, it has voted with the winning party every election but one. Odds are this will be the second time. —IB
10 p.m. EST

Well, Kim Campbell's record is safe. In the first returns of the campaign, the good folks of Newfoundland ensure the Liberals will not fall to two seats or less. The Grits come off the Rock with four of the seven seats in Newfoundland and Labrador, just one fewer than they went in with.

The odd thing here is that the Liberal vote mostly held: it is nearly 50 per cent provincewide. But the Conservatives bumped up noticeably in a couple of ridings that they had specifically targeted and broadly--perhaps a sign of things to come--at the expense of the NDP.

Early punditry. This could be an indication Atlantic Canada is willing to let bygones be bygones and put aside Stephen Harper's often-noted critique that the region is part of a "culture of dependence."

The Conservatives kept their two St. John's seats, including Loyola Hearn's, a likely Cabinet minister (best guess fisheries) if the Tories form the government. They pick up a new one in Avalon, which went Tory for only the third time in the past 50 years.

The winner there: Fabian Manning, a young former volunteer firefighter and also an ex-member of Danny Williams's provincial government. This was the seat held by popular former Liberal minister John Efford who retired because of health reasons and has been spending a lot of time in Florida of late.

It was also a near thing for the Liberals in Gander, where the Tories got the jump early with a promise to restore the Gander weather station, forcing the Liberals to match the pledge. Only about a dozen jobs were at stake but it became a test case of how pliable far away Ottawa is to local concerns. —RS

9:55 p.m. EST

How loyal the Rock? The results in Newfoundland will be the test of the politics of payoff. Remember the great offshore resources fight of 2005? Conservative Premier Danny Williams claiming Paul Martin went back on his 2004 campaign promise to allow poor Newfoundland to keep its new-found resource money as well as equalization and all those other federal monies. The fight went on for months. Williams even lowered the Canadian flag to make his point!

Martin capitulated. The first in a series of financial side deals with other provinces, Quebec being one of the bigger recipients. And the five Liberal MPs in Newfoundland breathed a sigh of relief.

They were bloodied a bit by the fight. But polls at the outset of this campaign gave the Liberals nearly 50 per cent of popular support in Newfoundland and Labrador, the highest level in all of Atlantic Canada. It looked then like they might even sweep all seven seats in Newfoundland.

Since then of course other events and personalities have intervened. Stay tuned. We'll have results shortly. —RS

9:30 p.m. EST

Let it not be said that politics has no perils. Quebec Liberal David Price was driving from polling station to polling station throughout his riding of Compton-Stanstead, south of Montreal. Price's car hit a patch of slush and ice and left the road.

As Price described it, "The air bags went off and everything, everything functioned properly. I was just twirling in the air for a while and landed right on the wheels again."

Price emerged with a few bruises and a sore shoulder but announced that, as planned, he would be watching the results of the election on television in a Lennoxville bar. —JG

6:54 p.m. EST

Democracy inspires different voters in different ways. For example, in the Nova Scotian commmunity of New Glasgow on Monday, a man rushed into a polling station, grabbed a ballot box and bolted out of the building into the parking lot. He put the box onto the ground and proceeded to drive over it until the box was flattened.

The man fled but was captured later by police. Elections Canada scrutineers rescued the ballots from the crushed ballot box and transferred them into a new box. As democracy marched on police were expected to charge a 57-year-old man with theft, property damage and charges under the Canada Elections Act. —JG

6:50 p.m. EST

Tonight is all about winners and losers. The winners will celebrate, the losers will put on a brave face, but under their breaths, some will be muttering �we wuz robbed�. That�s because in our �first past the post� electoral system, winners sometimes take home more of the spoils than they possibly deserve. The key to success is making every vote count. The party that wins the most seats tonight will be the party that is able to distribute its vote most efficiently. Look at this table from the 2004 election�
  • The Bloc Québécois elected one MP for every 31,113 votes.

  • The Liberals elected one MP for every 36,905 votes.

  • The Conservatives elected one MP for every 40,601 votes.

  • The NDP elected one MP for every 111,969 votes.

  • The Green party elected zero MPs for 582,247 votes.
After looking at that, it�s not surprising that smaller parties like the NDP and the Greens favour proportional representation, while �efficient� parties like the Liberals and Conservatives think the current system works just fine.

Of course, it doesn�t take much for the tables to turn. In 2004, the NDP lost twelve races by fewer than 1,000 votes; seven to the Conservatives, and five to the Liberals. Small swings in those ridings tonight, and the NDP seat total could improve considerably over last time when the party won 19 seats with 15.7% of the vote. In 1988, the NDP�s best year ever, it won 43 seats with 20.4%. That translates into a highly efficient rate of one seat for every 38,645 votes. Another result like that, and proportional representation could suddenly start looking a lot less attractive. —IB

6:49 p.m. EST

Hmmm. Is Mother Nature trying to tell us something? A soft wind blows in from the West. (Wearing a ten gallon hat and looking suspiciously like Myron Thompson. No, no. That's not what we mean.)

The real one is called a chinook of course. And it is just one of several mellow conditions that make a mid-winter's voting day mostly palatable. No huge storms to knock out ballot stations or keep the keeners from the polling booths.

Will this improve voter turnout? It's become a mantra by now. Last election's exhibition of civic duty was less than stellar. In fact at 60.9 per cent it was the lowest since Confederation in 1867.

This time there has at least been an increase in the advance polls: voting there was up 25 per cent since the election in June 2004. But of course Elections Canada helped this along by making advance polling so much easier this outing.

Voter turnout has been declining generally for decades. Mind you, it does tend to spike up a notch whenever there is change in government. —RS

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Environics survey casts light on result

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What's next for Canada's 'natural governing party'

CBC.ca's Reality Check Team on election day developments

The results

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A new era


Anthony Westell suggests it may be harder to unite the left than it was to unite the right

Georgie Binks on how Stephen Harper may jump-start the women's movement

Larry Zolf muses on the next Liberal leader

Tony Burman on how voters helped shape the CBC�s election coverage

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