Two Cheers for Paul Martin:

The Liberal Canadian Prime Minister has just delivered an eloquent, patriotic concession speech. Current results (including Ridings where results are not final) is Conservatives 124; Liberals 103; Bloq Quebecois 51; New Democratic Party 29; Independent 1. This will lead to the Governor-General of Canada asking Conservative party leader Stephen Harper to form a minority government.

As the results solidified, television commentators speculated that the Liberals might try to hold on to power by forming a minority coalition with the NDP. Paul Martin's concession speech, however, rejected this backdoor attempt to cling to power. Although the Liberal campaign was extraordinarily ugly by Canadian standards (the low point being a quickly-withdrawn January 12 ad warning that Stephen Harper would put the military on the streets of Canadian cities), Martin's concession speech was statesmanlike, dignified, and constructive.

In Parliament, the Conservatives and NDP will be able to team up to pass a variety of anti-corruption measures. Enactment of other items on the Conservative agenda (such as adding property rights to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or dismantling the long gun registry and spending the savings on more police) is uncertain.

Although the Liberals lost, they did better than polls had indicated. Regionally, the results are: In Atlantic Canada, a late Liberal surge maintained the status quo, with only small Liberal losses. In Quebec, the Conservatives won nearly a third of the vote, and handily displaced the Liberals as the major federal party in Quebec. In Ontario, the Conservatives made significant gains, while the Liberals easily held their stronghold of Toronto. In the Prairie Provinces, the Conservatives had a great night, as expected; I was especially pleased to see that Liberal gun-banning Justice Minister Annie McClellan lost her seat in Edmonton. In British Columbia, the Liberals appear to be holding much of their Vancouver base, although results are still coming in.