Stephen Harper set the bar for success in this election. There were only two choices, he said -- a Conservative Majority or Chaos. No one at this point can accurately predict the outcome of this election. But it would appear that Canadians -- as they do so often -- have chosen an outcome that will fall somewhere in the middle.
There would, indeed, be a certain poetic justice if that outcome was a Liberal - NDP coalition. While I welcome what appears to be NDP growth in Quebec, as a former Quebecer I'm bothered by what Mr. Layton has promised the residents of la belle province. I worry specifically about Layton's pledge to reopen the constitution. As a native Quebecer, Layton surely recognizes the risks of such a gambit. And, for all its faults, the Liberal Party of Canada has always insisted -- to the chagrin of many -- that Quebec be at the centre of the action.
In the end, Andrew Coyne -- whose instincts are surely not Liberal -- has it right. As he concluded yesterday in Macleans:
If we return the Conservatives with a majority, if we let all that has gone on these past five years pass, then not only the Tories, but every party will draw the appropriate conclusions. But if we send them a different message, then maybe the work of bringing government to democratic heel, begun in the tumult of the last Parliament, can continue. And that is why I will be voting Liberal on May 2.
It may be that Mr. Coyne is in a minority which amounts to the third largest number of seats. It may be that Mr. Harper will have the largest number of seats. But it now seems clear that -- by his own measure -- Mr. Harper has failed. Perhaps the Conservatives will begin to ponder the future under someone else. It might be good for them. It would certainly be good for Canada.