THE TORIES “WIN” THE CANADIAN FEDERAL ELECTION IF: They get a majority. That is the goal, pure and simple, and the only way they get an unqualified victory is if they get a majority. This is because financial indicators for the near future are frankly really bad (even with the Canadian banks having more of a hedge against the financial maelstrom forthcoming everywhere else than most other countries’ banks). If the Tories don’t get a majority government, they’ll be stuck with another minority, and then the Liberals will, at their leisure, force an election when they’re stronger and when the Tories are weaker thanks to being in charge during bad times. If the Tories get a majority, they can hope to ride out the next four years and maybe things don’t suck by the end. If they don’t, they’re in trouble, and everybody knows it. Of course, that’s why they called the election now; they’re trying to wring the most out of their current state of advantage.
THE TORIES “LOSE” THE ELECTION IF: If they don’t see any gains in Ontario. If they don’t see expected gains in Quebec. If their seat count in Parliament doesn’t raise by at least five seats. (Ten to fifteen seats would, given the political facts on the ground, essentially count as a tie.)
THE LIBERALS “WIN” THE ELECTION IF: They don’t collapse. This is the rare moment in Canadian history where the Liberal party could legitimately fall apart for another decade if not longer; they have a leader who is not well liked (although I think Dion gets a bad rap), and no real champion waiting in the wings (Bob Rae? Michael Ignatieff? Zzzzzzz). It is possible (not likely, I think, but certainly possible and not unfeasible) that the Grits could be reduced below 45 seats in this election – a trouncing that bad would put the party in the wilderness for years and shove the NDP forward as a serious alternative for many centre-left Liberal voters.
THE LIBERALS “LOSE” THE ELECTION IF: If they lose a lot of seats to the NDP. If they get cleaned out in Quebec (the nightmare scenario, and not impossible at this point). If their popular support in the Maritimes or Toronto shows signs of seriously fading.
THE NDP “WINS” THE ELECTION IF: They continue their slow-but-steady seat increase as they have over the past few elections. Whatever one can say negatively about Jack Layton (STOP WITH THE FUCKING ROBOCALLS, JACK), you can’t say that he hasn’t pulled the party out of its late-90s doldrums. This time around, the NDP is looking to capitalize on its by-election win in Outremont (its first Quebec victory in, like, ever) with another victory in Gatineau or Hull, and to continue its steady and gradual growth in the Maritimes by taking seats in Newfoundland (where the Tories are stumbling thanks to Danny Williams being a pugnacious asshole). They even have a shot in Oshawa thanks to the auto manufacturing crisis on Ontario. The ideally realistic NDP scenario is a growth of five to ten seats.
THE NDP “LOSES” THE ELECTON IF: Thomas Mulcair is defeated in Outremont; the Liberals steal their expected Maritime seats; NDP ridings that should be more or less locks (like Trinity-Spadina) go Liberal instead.
THE GREEN PARTY “WINS” THE ELECTION IF: Elizabeth May wins her seat in Central Nova. This is their only realistic shot at winning a seat on their own merit, and it is, seriously, put up or shut up time for the Greens. Disaffected voters will only flirt with a fringe party for so long before they expect it to become competitive, and the Greens’ fifteen minutes are almost up.
THE GREEN PARTY “LOSES” THE ELECTION IF: May doesn’t win. Period.
THE BLOC QUEBECOIS “WINS” THE ELECTION IF: They manage to hold back the rising rural Tory tide in Quebec. The Bloc currently have 48 seats; after the election, if they manage to keep more than 40 of them, they’ve done extremely well. And you know they’re desperate; when Gilles Duceppe says he wants to attract federalist votes in Quebec, that’s when the Bloc is in dire straits indeed.
THE BLOC QUEBECOIS “LOSES” THE ELECTION IF: They drop below 30 seats, which would be a drubbing. If they drop below 25, expect to see defections in the ranks. Like the Liberals, this is an election which can potentially send the Bloc into the politicla wilderness; unlike the Liberals, who will always eventually resurrect themselves and take back the reins of power, the Bloc could simply dissolve if things go badly enough.