Make it work.
That’s the message Canadians have for Ottawa, even as pundits scramble to analyze the wholesale changes to the federal government that surprised so many of us Monday night.
Though they were shut out in Greater Victoria, the Conservatives have been handed a powerful mandate to push along their agenda.
In charge of the first majority government since the Liberals held power in 2004, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s legacy will in many ways be shaped by how he presides over Canada’s 41st Parliament.
With less of a requirement to appease opposition MPs, Harper has the opportunity to move away from the heavy-handed approach he was criticized for in the past. However, if the Conservatives fail to increase the transparency of government decision making it will be up to the opposition to keep the pressure on the Prime Minister.
Our local NDP Members of Parliament – Randall Garrison in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca and Denise Savoie in Victoria – will need to be up to the task of being the official Opposition. They’ll be joined by the lone (but far from quiet) voice of the Green’s Elizabeth May, whose victory in Saanich-Gulf Islands was well-publicized across the country on election night.
May will have a particularly tough run to fully represent her riding. She replaces former Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn whose position enabled him to speak directly to the Prime Minister.
Still, the people have spoken and May and the NDP have made groundbreaking strides in this election. The ruling Conservatives, who finished second in all three Greater Victoria ridings, would be fools to ignore this region. We need our elected MPs to fight tooth and nail to earn their seats, but we also expect the Conservatives to work even harder if they hope to return to the region for Canada’s 42nd Parliament.