The breaking news from Canada is that the Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has been re-elected with an increased majority, although he has fallen some 10 to 12 votes short of an overall majority, something he desperately craved.
Despite this, Harper’s political gamble to call a snap election has paid off, although he will still have to reply on the support of at least one of the three opposition parties to govern.
Not surprisingly the financial crisis dominated the later parts of the election. The 49-year-old told a victory celebration in his home town of Calgary it was time to “put aside political differences. We stretch out a hand to all members of all parties asking them to join together to protect our economy and to weather this world financial crisis,” he said.
But oil sands and carbon taxes also played a large part in the election. Harper’s victory is a bitter blow to the opposition Liberals as well as minority parties such as the Greens who had campaigned on climate change and what was seen as a “highly unpopular” carbon tax proposal. The only Green MP lost his seat.
As a commentator in today’s Globe and Mail noted: “It may be some time before we again see a political leader in Canada brave enough to build a campaign platform around saving the environment …. The environment was not a winning issue on this campaign trail”.
The oil industry will be pleased with the vote. Mineweb noted that Harper’s reelection might “prove a positive political development for the Canadian mining sector”, including the oil industry.
Another blogger notes that “under Harper, the brakes are unlikely to be applied to Harper’s plan to quintuple Tar Sands production over the next five years. Even as boycott campaigns gear up against the Tar Sands and Canada, Harper will here too buck world trends, doggedly adhering to the policies of another age.
Once the worst of the financial crisis is over, it will be back to business as usual for Harper and that is exploiting oil sands to the full. The problem for his is that, with a fast falling oil price, this may not happen..