Election night in Canada

Conservatives will form government with the NDP as official opposition

Greetings from a couple floors underneath the Sheraton in downtown Toronto. The stage in the grand ballroom is dramatically lit and the large Canadian flags hang in place. Several hours from now Michael Ignatieff will arrive at the podium and try to find a positive word or two to describe tonight’s results.

Numbers can’t be published until 10pm EST, but we’ll start the three-hour pre-game show shortly.

7:00pm EST… Three questions which may or may not end up being relevant to tonight’s final results. Will the Conservative vote out-perform opinion polls like it did in 2008? Will the Liberal vote collapse any further than it already has? Will the NDP vote realize its potential? Here are Renard Sexton’s thoughts on that last question. Recalling the Liberal-Democrat experience in Britain, he figures it’s coming down three to five points nationally.

7:24pm EST… For whatever they may turn out to be worth, a few of the final seat projections. DemocraticSpace: Conservatives 155, NDP 86, Liberals 47, Bloc Quebecois 20. Election Prediction: Conservatives 146, NDP 65, Liberals 63, Bloc Quebecois 33, Independent 1. ThreeHundredEight: Conservatives 143, NDP 78, Liberals 60, Bloc Quebecois 27.

8:07pm EST… Matthew Yglesias on the differences between politics in Canada and the United States.

The American system encourages politicians to make extremist promises to their base while the Canadian one challenges politicians to reassure voters.

8:22pm EST... From elsewhere in the Maclean’s universe: Philippe Gohier on Quebec and John Geddes on Pierre Trudeau.

8:43pm EST… It was lost amid last night’s other news, so here is CBC’s feature on each leader’s biggest political errors. CBC’s television and online coverage, including their rather indispensable interactive map, will be anchored here tonight.

9:31pm EST… Polls are now closed across most of the country, but we’re still a half hour away from being to report anything on account of the Pacific time zone.

9:51pm EST… The CTV decision desk calls it a Conservative government. The aforementioned Renard Sexton earlier projected as follows: Conservatives 132, Liberals 76, NDP 63, Bloc 37.

9:55pm EST… Colby Cosh checks in from Calgary and Martin Patriquin checks in from Quebec.

10:00pm EST… Here we go. I count five changes in the early results from the East Coast: all Liberal incumbents defeated or trailing. Three go to the Conservatives, two to the NDP.

10:01pm EST… CBC calls it a Conservative government, NDP on pace for official opposition.

10:07pm EST… Those defeated incumbents are Siobhan Coady, Mike Savage, Jean-Claude D’Amours and Todd Russell. Brian Murphy is trailing in Moncton.

10:10pm EST… It is very, very early, but the Quebec map looks very, very orange and the the Toronto area shows very little red.

10:20pm EST… Helena Guergis is a distant third in Simcoe-Grey. Two cabinet ministers—Josee Verner and Jean-Pierre Blackburn—are trailing, as are two party leaders: Messrs Ignatieff and Duceppe.

10:27pm EST… Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the NDP candidate who skipped off to Vegas in the middle of the campaign and whose candidacy was news to the manager of the Ottawa pub she worked in, is currently leading in  Berthier-Maskinongé.

10:33pm EST… The Liberals who are trailing around Toronto include: Dryden, Ratansi, Oliphant, Hall Findlay, Tonks, Kennedy, Minna, Silva, Holland, Simson, Szabo, Bains, Crombie and Ignatieff.

10:40pm EST… Global calls it a Conservative majority.

10:44pm EST… This is by various measures an astonishing night, but here is one: the current Quebec standings. NDP 59, Conservatives 6, Liberals 6, Bloc 4.

10:55pm EST… Two cabinet ministers have been declared defeated: Cannon and Blackburn. Verner and Duncan are trailing and Elizabeth May is leading Gary Lunn.

10:57pm EST… Liberals trailing or defeated in Montreal: Jennings, Garneau, Patry and Rodriguez.

11:04pm EST… Colby theorizes from Calgary.

11:28pm EST… Mr. Ignatieff has just delivered brief remarks to a teary-eyed audience here in Toronto. He says he will stay on as leader as long as the party wishes—not having a seat will make that rather difficult—and serve in whatever capacity the party desires.

11:30pm EST… Now that the numbers have settled down more or less, the standings look as follows: Conservatives 168, NDP 104, Liberals 33, Bloc Quebecois 2, Greens 1.

11:33pm EST… John reports from NDP headquarters.

11:37pm EST… Going back to those three questions. The Liberal (19%) and NDP (31%) votes mostly held to where the last opinion polls had them, but the Conservatives (40%) got a similar bump to what they received in 2008. That and vote splits on the left side of the ledger are the overly simplistic explanations for what happened today.

11:58pm EST… Gilles Duceppe, who has lost his seat, has announced his resignation as leader of the BQ (or whatever now remains of the BQ).

12:09am EST… And now the victory speeches, starting with Elizabeth May who seems in danger of bursting with glee.

12:22am EST… Jack Layton is about to speak. While we wait, a few provincial breakdowns.

Ontario: Conservatives 72, NDP 22, Liberals 12.
British Columbia: Conservatives 21, NDP 12, Liberals 2, Greens 1.
Quebec: NDP 60, Conservatives 6, Liberals 6, Bloc Quebecois 3.

12:28am EST… And here’s Mr. Layton, looking exactly as triumphant as you might expect.

12:49am EST… Mr. Layton’s finished declaring victory and Mr. Harper’s still to come, but I’ve got to go write something. I’ll leave you to John, Colby and Marty for a bit.

3:41am EST… Greetings from a much later hour. Or a much earlier hour, depending on one’s perspective. Marty has filed from Quebec and John from Toronto. And here is my first draft. Obviously much more to come in the hours and days ahead. It will take some time to sort through tonight’s 308 winners.

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