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The palpable joy in NDP circles on the night of the last federal election appeared justified, the exuberant enthusiasm well grounded. Not only had the party leapfrogged over the rival Liberals to attain Official Opposition status, but it had won three times as many seats as the Liberals. Not only had it swept Quebec by winning more seats in the province than any other party had since 1980, but it had also won more votes than the Liberals, and twice as many seats, in heartland Ontario. Ontario is critical to the fortunes of all parties because it generally determines who will form the government and whether that government will be in a majority or minority position.

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