But they overestimated their appeal and underestimated how carefully the Canadian people would be watching how they used their newfound power. Last years election created one of the most deliberate minority governments in history. Remember, with a week to go before the election when the polls started suggesting the Tories were in majority territory? Remember how the Conservative numbers immediately crashed back to minority range as soon as the prospect of a Conservative majority raised its ugly head?
Canadians wanted the Liberals out, but they weren't taking a flier on the Conservatives either.
With a fractured opposition, a rigidly controlled - even muzzled -caucus and a disciplined minimalist agenda the Tories should be head and shoulders over the thrashing, many-headed monstrosity that the Liberals currently present to the public. Instead Tory numbers have stagnated, even without an opposition. They've flatlined in Quebec and hovered or cratered everywhere else. Their hopes for a majority are over and their hopes of even maintaining their minority are on life support.
What little is left of their agenda is at the mercy of the opposition - the Tories are now dependent on desperate stalling measures just to keep the opposition from controlling parliament altogether.
"The behavior of the Liberal party is arrogant and anti-democratic," fumed Harper. "That's really the problem. They haven't accepted the decision of the electorate."Of course, more than half of the electorate voted center left to socialist - in a minority government, respecting the decision of the electorate means compromise and respect for the opposition and an agenda hewing to the political center, not the extremist edges. Instead the Conservatives chose arrogance, and catering to their base. It's cost them.
I've heard the grimly spoken words 'If this is how they behave with a minority...' uncountable times lately - and I live in Calgary.
Many factors will determine the immediate political future, from who wins the American mid-terms to who wins the Liberal leadership. Right now the most likely result of the next Canadian election is a minority Liberal government and a Conservative return to the political wilderness.