Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party coasted to an easy victory in national elections on Tuesday, winning 38% of the vote and 143 seats in parliament. Mr. Harper's closest competitor, Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion, managed only 26% of the popular vote for 76 seats.
Though he did not win the 155 seats he needed to secure a majority, Mr. Harper did pick up 16 new members of parliament, while the Liberals lost 19 seats. In other words, in a time of great economic uncertainty, Canadians by a large margin went with the tax cutter over the tax raiser.
Leading another minority government is not what Mr. Harper had in mind when he called this election in September. But it's nonetheless striking that the global financial panic and his response to it -- which critics called too casual -- didn't take a bigger toll on his party. One reason may be the fact that Mr. Harper has restored Canada's important role in NATO and revived Canadian pride in playing a role on the world stage. Since first taking the Conservatives to a national victory in 2006, he has reversed a pattern of parliamentary neglect of Canada's armed forces and made proper funding for the troops a priority. Rather than flee Afghanistan as Mr. Dion wanted to do, Mr. Harper's Canada is playing a crucial role in the international effort to defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Mr. Harper's first government also cut the national sales tax, personal taxes and corporate taxes. His domestic platform in this race promised to cut corporate taxes further to attract capital and grow the economy. Mr. Dion promised to levy a new carbon tax on business. Mr. Harper was able to explain to voters that a carbon tax is a tax on them. John McCain, take note.