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Conservatives Declare Election Victory in Canada


Canada's Conservative opposition has won the country's general election, ending 12 years of Liberal government.

The results will make 46-year-old economist Stephen Harper the twenty-second prime minister of Canada. The Conservative Party elected 124 out of a possible 308 members of parliament and took just over 36 percent of the popular vote.

This defeats the party of now outgoing Liberal leader and Prime Minister Paul Martin, who has held office for just over two years. While he will remain the local member of parliament from Montreal, he announced his resignation as Liberal Leader in his concession speech. His party finished with 103 seats Canada's House of Commons and just over 30 percent of the popular vote.

The Bloc Quebecois Party, which advocates Quebec's separation from Canada, will have 51 seats. The left-wing New Democratic Party garnered 29 seats, with Party Leader Jack Layton and his wife Olivia Chow becoming only the second husband and wife team in parliament in Canadian history.

In Canada, voters cast ballots for local members of parliament, not the party leaders. The party with the most seats, or MPs as they are known, forms a government and the party leader, in this case Stephen Harper, becomes prime minister.

In his victory speech to supporters in Calgary, Mr. Harper says he is mindful that the other parties outnumber his new minority government. In a conciliatory gesture, he is promising to work with his political rivals.

"Tonight, although Canadians have voted for change, they have not given any one party in the House of Commons a majority. They have asked us to cooperate, to work together and get on with tackling the real concerns of ordinary working people and their families," he said. "I look forward to working with all of the parties and all of the members of parliament to build consensus and move this country forward. Friends, I have never been so proud of our great country. And I honoured and overwhelmed to be asked to lead it."

The change of power will most likely happen within the next two weeks. Once in office, Mr. Harper says he will introduce an accountability act. This is a campaign promise to eliminate the chance for scandal and corruption.

A report alleging criminal wrongdoing and corruption of different government officials when previous Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien was in office, forced the election. The report and other alleged scandals plagued the Liberal Party and Paul Martin throughout the campaign.

As the new prime minister, Mr. Harper says his new government will also focus on reducing taxes, reform Canada's justice system, offer parents tax credits for child care, and reduce the time it takes to get surgery under Canada's public healthcare system.