Everyone can exhale. The Federal Liberal party is out and the sun is still shining. The heat coming off the sun this winter has me more worried than Stephen Harper's minority government.
Harper's Tories are barely forming a government, and that's despite the Liberals' disastrous campaign and record of graft. A majority of progressive and proto-progressive candidates have been elected nationwide. Canadians didn't dump the values so many of us are proud of and passionate about; we dumped a government that deserved to get its ass kicked.
The NDP made a major breakthrough, electing a pile of progressive politicians and they did it by successfully selling a campaign of hope instead of a frenzy of fear.
Now Canada will finally get to meet Stephen Harper and his reconfigured right-wing radicals with the NDP acting as a safety net.
The Tories did an amazing job of muzzling their more malignant members during this campaign. But how long can that last? How long before outrageous outcries from Alberta's outback MPs demand compulsory military training in public schools and all-beef diets for our Olympic athletes?
When the "reasonable" members of your caucus are Mike Harris minions Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty, two guys who thought cutting taxes to create a multi-billion-dollar deficit was "common sense," what hope is there for long-term Tory rule?
The Conservatives didn't reinvent themselves they reinvented their campaign.
So while the Conservatives wrestle with their demons in the next Parliament and the Liberals battle each other in their leadership campaign, the super-sized NDP will get a chance to hone its "reasonable alternative" chops.
The Tories will be anxious to appear accommodating, and Layton will be happy to oblige as long as he can force some concessions for his urban, enviro agenda. And that's a lot more than he could have counted on with either a Conservative or Liberal majority.
Harper won't be able to count on big-city Canada the way the Liberals did when they took it for granted. Hell, he even pledged money for Harbourfront during the race, something the Liberals have rarely done since the days of Trudeau.
The Tories have every reason to mimic moderation, play ball with the NDP and weaken a Liberal resurgence.
Canada now has three credible national parties for the first time in almost 20 years.
This could be an exciting time for Canada, with a surprising amount of real change. Federal politicians would be fools to take voters for granted.
Now, if only the outdoor rinks would freeze, there'd be nothing to fear.