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Canadian Conservatives Remain in Power

  • Craig McCulloch

Canadians have re-elected the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. As Craig McCulloch reports, despite the win, Mr. Harper still has a minority government in Canada's House of Commons.

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have retained power, with 143 Members of parliament leading or having been elected.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion will remain the official opposition leader, as his party appears to have won 76 seats.

Canada follows the British parliamentary system, which means voters cast ballots for local members of parliament, not party leaders. The ruling party chooses the prime minister.

Because Mr, Harper won less than the 155 needed for a majority in Canada's 308 seat House of Commons, he has another minority government. The Conservatives gained 15 members since the last election - mostly at the expense of the Liberals.

The Bloc Quebecois, which only runs candidates in the mostly French-speaking Province of Quebec, will have 50 seats. The Socialist-minded New Democratic Party has 37 seats. There are two independents.

The campaign started in September, with no real issues grabbing the spotlight. That all changed with the financial meltdown on Wall Street that brought economic issues to the fore, the last two weeks of the campaign.

Making his victory speech in his hometown, Calgary, Prime Minister Harper
said Canada will come out ahead, despite the economic turmoil.

"Canadians are worried right now and I understand those worries," he said. "I want to
assure Canadians that, working together, we will weather this storm and we will
position our economy to emerge stronger than ever before."

Conceding in his hometown, Montreal, Liberal leader Stephane Dion says, at
least for now, he will continue as opposition leader.

"We Liberals will do our part, responsibly; to make sure that this parliament works," Dion said. "It is clear that our economy, indeed the global economic crisis, is the most important issue facing our country at this time. As the official opposition, we will work with the government to make sure that Canadians are
protected from the economic storm."

The biggest question now for Dion is whether he can continue as leader of the Liberal Party. Many veteran political watchers are anticipating his exit from the job, in the coming weeks.

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