The world may have been focused on the events that unfolded at Osama bin Laden’s compound outside Islamabad, but Canada started out the week by witnessing dramatic events of its own. In its May 2 vote, the Conservative Party pulled in enough votes to win the parliamentary majority for the first time since Prime Minister Stephen Harper assumed office five years ago. But the general election—the country’s fourth in seven years—brought other major changes. The New Democratic Party (NDP) leapfrogged over the Liberal Party to take the second largest number of votes and become the official opposition in Parliament. Results led to the halving of the Liberal Party’s parliamentary seats and to Michael Ignatieff’s decision to step down from his position as the party’s leader. The NDP’s “orange tide” also swept over the Bloc Québécois, which came in second in Quebec Province and will retain just four parliamentary seats. The Bloc’s Gilles Duceppe will step down from party leadership as well at a time when as Canada’s political landscape gets redrawn in the wake of the snap election.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be hoping for a case of “third time’s a charm.” He’s weathered some rocky political waters, from a 2008 election set during the global financial crisis to a budget dispute narrowly resolved in January 2009. Throughout his five years in office, his Conservative Party has held a minority in Parliament. Will that change come May 2, when Harper endures his third election? A short, five-week campaign cycle will deliver the answer.
A blizzard of bad news hit the start of the Winter Olympics last week. Hours before the opening ceremony, a Georgian athlete died in a tragic accident while practicing on the luge track in an incident that drew safety concerns. The unseasonably warm weather has led some to dub these Games the first “Spring Olympics.” Organizers, faced with a lack of snow, refunded general admission tickets to some events this week, translating to $400,000 in lost-ticket revenue. But even as news reports cast light on the Games’ unwanted hurdles, local officials hope to showcase Vancouver during the Olympics and help shepherd along its economic recovery.