The Conservatives were voted into a minority government but there are plenty of stories here. I will try to write with as much objectivity as possible...but we'll see how I do.
The Conservatives were predicted to win a strong minority, knocking at the door of a majority but that did not happen by a long shot. They were 31 seats short of that. In fact, they have a weaker minority than the just toppled Liberals. I think a big surprise was how well the Liberals did in fact do, reaching triple-digit seats. The reason being the campaign went a bit too long, with the Conservatives standing in the polls peaking last week. They could not breach the Liberal bastion of the greater Toronto area.
However, a huge story was Quebec. As usual, Quebec always plays some wacky role. The Conservatives, who have been shutout of Quebec for what seems like ever, grabbed 24% of the popular vote, to the Liberals' 20%, and won 10 seats. This is both upsetting and good. If the Conservatives had not been so strong in Quebec, the Liberals would have won plenty more seats. I figure they would have taken the 10 the Conservatives grabbed and in addition to those, they would have won a handful of ridings where the Conservatives split the vote, allowing the BQ to come up the middle. Take my riding, for example, Brossard-La Prairie. The BQ guy won by 1300 votes. If you added the Conservatives votes to the Liberals, they would have handily beaten the BQ by close to 10,000 votes. Considering the BQ guy got virtually the exact amount of votes he did last time, I think it's safe to say the Liberals lost votes directly to the Conservatives in my riding. This situation repeated in many ridings. If the Conservatives weren't as strong, the Liberals would have taken enough seats to win a minority government. So, Quebec held the balance of power in the province.
The better news of the Conservatives' showing in Quebec is the embarrassment they induced on the Bloc. The Bloc was boasting earlier in the campaign about how they'd sweep the province and win so much of the popular vote, giving them conditions for a referendum. Then it fell apart. They thought they'd win over 60 seats but ended up actually netting 51...3 fewer than last election! But the egg on their face is due to the 42% popular vote they received. 42%! That is lower than anyone predicted. So I suppose this hinders any referendum plans. I figure those numbers are quite distressing to the separatist cause. I imagine virtually all who did not vote Bloc would also vote "No" in a referendum so it puts a shot in their plans. People are finally realizing they have an alternative and the Bloc is a one-trick pony with no raison d'etre other than screwing things up at a federal level.
This alternative may also change the dynamic of the provincial elections. Harper promises many concessions for Quebec which apprently worked to appease softer nationalists. On top of that, he said he'd support and work closely with Jean Charest to help Quebec. Add to that the fact that the provincial Liberals are amassing a ton of money to spend on a coming campaign and then mix in the fact that the PQ leader is not well-liked in his own party. Also, I feel once he is put to the vote, the rural voters will not support a homosexual, cocaine-using (while in office, no less!) politician. This could only fuel a rejection of the PQ. If only Charest can make himself better liked in the province.
In the end, it's all a game. The big question is, when will my combined sales tax go from 15.025% to 13.95%? :p