At last: Harper gains majority

Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper achieved his long-cherished goal of leading a majority government May 2 and the implications for rural policy could be profound.

He has promised to end the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly for wheat and barley international sales and domestic human consumption sales.

He has promised to end the long gun registry.

And he has promised an agricultural agenda that includes increased trade emphasis, a new farm program deal with the provinces and more spending on food safety and inspection services.

“I think voters obviously sent a message tonight that they want stability,” Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Ron Bonnett said May 2.

“It is up to us and the farm lobby to convince the government that our issues matter.”

The CFA plans to push the new Conservative government on creating a national food strategy and improving farm support programs.

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Grain Growers of Canada plans to make sure the Conservatives live up to promises that the CWB monopoly will be eliminated while pushing for more research funding.

But first, the Conservatives will revel in their new electoral power.

On May 2, Canadian voters sent 167 Conservative MPs to Ottawa, the first majority government elected since 2000 and a Conservative majority after two minorities.

But the voter message was much stronger than a mere majority. Canadians fundamentally shook up the political landscape.

For the first time in history, the New Democratic Party will be the official opposition with 102 seats.

Most of the NDP gains are in Quebec where the Quebec separatist Bloc Québécois was reduced from 49 seats and third party status to four seats and little influence.

The Liberals were reduced to third place with 34 seats, their worst result in Canadian history with an historically low voter share of less than 20 percent. Agriculture critic Wayne Easter was returned for his seventh term after a close victory in his Prince Edward Island riding

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British Columbia voters in Saanich-Gulf Islands made history by electing Green Party leader Elizabeth May as the first Green MP.

BQ leader Gilles Duccepe, elected in 1990 and opposition leader from 1993 to 1997, was defeated and resigned.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff lost his safe Toronto seat and after leading the party to an historic defeat was expected to announce his resignation later this week.

NDP leader Jack Layton promised to work with the Harper government to end the partisan and bitter deadlock that marked the last two Parliaments.

“Spring is here and a new chapter begins,” he said in Toronto.

However, he will lack strong farm representation.

Prominent Prairie NDP candidate and former National Farmers Union leader Nettie Wiebe failed in her fourth attempt to win a Commons seat in Saskatoon.

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In a speech in Calgary, Harper promised co-operation and a government that represents all Canadians “whether they voted for us or not.”