Persistence pays off as Harper wins majority

Armed with his first-ever majority government, Stephen Harper promised to start work right away to implement the budget tabled before the election.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper thanks his supporters for helping his party win a majority government 14:19

Stephen Harper asked voters for a majority government, and after fighting three elections as Conservative leader, he finally has it.

Harper's Conservative Party won 166 seats Monday night to take control of the House of Commons. A majority is 155 of the 308 seats.

Harper promised to get started Tuesday and work to implement the budget his government introduced before it fell in March.

He thanked his children for giving him up so he could work for other families in Canada. His wife, Laureen, looked on in tears as Harper spoke to a boisterous crowd in Calgary.

"Canadians made this critically important decision today," he said, referring back to his campaign speeches about a stable majority.

"We are intensely aware that we are and we must be the government of all Canadians, including those who did not vote for us."

"All the lessons of the past few years ... those lessons that have come with a minority government, we must continue to practice as a majority government."

"Our Canadian political life is sometimes turbulent, but it is nonetheless a thing of beauty and the envy of people who have yet to achieve it."

But not all his cabinet ministers survived the NDP's sweep through Quebec.

Lawrence Cannon, Jean-Pierre Blackburn and Josée Verner lost their seats in the province. Cannon filled the prestigious foreign affairs minister role, Blackburn had been the veterans' affairs minister and Verner was intergovernmental affairs minister.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Rob Moore, Gail Shea and Keith Ashfield were all re-elected in the Maritimes, and Christian Paradis and Dénis Lebel were re-elected in Quebec.

Minister of State for Amateur Sport Gary Lunn lost his Victoria, B.C., area seat to Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

Harper has run a steady campaign, never deviating from a script that emphasized his party's stability as well as the Conservatives' focus on the economy.

But for the first time since he became leader of the Conservative Party, Harper asked voters directly to trust him with a majority government.

From the first day, he argued Canadians need to choose between "a stable, national government" that will keep taxes low and "a reckless coalition" that will halt the economic recovery and hurt families.

But public opinion polls conducted during the campaign showed more respondents moved to the NDP than to the incumbent government.

Coalition question

Harper's relentless talk of an opposition "coalition" dominated much of the campaign.

In response, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP Leader Jack Layton said they would be prepared to work with each other and with Gilles Duceppe's Bloc Québécois if there were to be no clear winner, with Ignatieff promising he wouldn't form a formal coalition.

Duceppe pushed back against Harper, seizing on the coalition argument and producing a copy of a letter he signed with Harper and Layton in 2004, which suggested the Governor General look to the opposition to form government if the then-minority Liberal government fell.

Winning seats in Quebec is usually considered necessary to forming a majority government, but as the campaign progressed the NDP was topping the polls in that province, making them the federalist alternative.

Outside Quebec, the Conservatives had Harper travelling frequently in and out of the suburbs around Toronto to try to strengthen support.