The election resulted in significant upheaval within the opposition parties, as the New Democratic Party (NDP) rode an "orange surge" in the polls during the campaign to 103 seats, becoming Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition for the first time in party history. The total eclipsed the party's previous best of 43 seats in 1988. The Liberals however were reduced to third party status nationwide. They returned only 34 MPs, less than half of what they had at dissolution. It was the first time in Canadian history that the Liberals were not one of the top two parties in the house.Green Party leader Elizabeth May won in her riding, becoming the first Green Party candidate elected to a governmental body in Canada, and to a national body in North America.
Following their staggering defeats, including losing their own seats, Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff both announced their resignations as party leaders. The result led to questions on the future of both parties, as observers considered whether this result was the beginnings of a two-party system in Canada.
The Conservatives, who had been leading in the polls since the writs were dropped, won 166 seats - enough for the first Conservative majority government since the Progressive Conservative-Canadian Alliance merger that formed the party in 2003. Notably, the Tories made significant inroads in Toronto, taking eight seats there. While the Tories had won a few seats in the Toronto suburbs since the PC-Canadian Alliance merger, this was the first time a right-of-centre party had won seats in the former Metro Toronto itself since the PC meltdown of 1993. Combined with their traditionally heavy support in the west, this was enough to win a 14-seat majority with 39.62 percent of the national popular vote - a result also notable for being the first time the modern Conservative party successfully polled a larger share of the vote than the combined tally of the PC and CA parties in the election preceding their merger.
Despite winning a majority government, the Conservatives lost over half their seats in Quebec to the NDP, retaining only five seats in that province.
The NDP had a major windfall, emerging as a truly national party for the first time in its 50-year history. They won 103 seats—more than double their previous high (when they won 43 seats in 1988). Much of this was due to a breakthrough in Quebec, a province where they had been more or less nonexistent for the better part of their history. From only one seat at dissolution, the NDP took 59 of 75 seats there, dominating Montreal and sweeping Quebec City and the Outaouais. By comparison, the NDP had only won one other seat in Quebec in its entire history prior to 2011 (and had held only one other seat, via a floor-crossing). It had not even been fully organized in the province since 1990, when its Quebec wing seceded to preach sovereigntism. The 59 seats won by the NDP in Quebec is the most won by any party in that province since the Progressive Conservatives won 63 seats there in 1988. In several cases, NDP candidates in Quebec won handily even though they didn't even actively campaign.
However, they were unable to make much of an impact in their former western heartland. They actually lost Elmwood—Transcona, the former seat of longtime MP and former deputy leaderBill Blaikie, by only 300 votes.
Winning only 34 seats, the Liberals suffered the worst result in their history. They will sit as the third party in the 41st Parliament, the first since Confederation where the Liberals will not form either the Government or the Official Opposition in the House of Commons. This was the worst showing for an incumbent Official Opposition party in terms of seats, and the lowest percentage for a national Official Opposition party (the Bloc Québécois in 1997 won more seats with a smaller vote share on account of its being a regional party).
The Liberals' poor showing was largely due to a collapse of their support in Montreal and Toronto, which had been the backbones of Liberal support for almost two decades. With few exceptions, their support in Toronto flowed to the Tories, while most of their base in Montreal switched to the NDP.
In 2008, they won 20 out of the 23 ridings fully or partially within Toronto. However, in 2011, they only won six, losing 6 to the NDP and 9 to the Conservatives. Additionally, after going into the election holding 30 of the 44 seats in the Greater Toronto Area, they only won seven in 2011.
In Montreal, the Liberals lost five of their 12 seats, and came close to losing several more. Most notably, they came within 2,500 votes of losing Mount Royal, long reckoned as the safest Liberal riding in the nation.
All told, the Liberals only won 11 seats in Ontario (all but four in Toronto) and seven in Quebec (all in Montreal)—the fewest the party has ever won in either province. They will go into the next Parliament holding only four seats west of Ontario (Winnipeg North, Wascana, Vancouver Centre and Vancouver Quadra).
The Bloc was practically eliminated from the scene, losing 43 seats. This reduced them to a rump of four seats, only a third of the number required for official party status. In many cases, they lost seats they held since their debut performance in 1993. Notably, they lost all but one seat in the Montreal area, including all of their seats in the traditionally sovereigntist eastern part of the city. They also lost all or most of their seats in their longstanding strongholds in the rest of the province, such as Quebec City and central Quebec. Several Bloc MPs who had never had serious difficulty being reelected ended up losing their seats in landslides. With few exceptions, their support bled over to the NDP. Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, at the time the longest-tenured party leader in Canada, lost his seat in Laurier-Sainte-Marie to NDP challenger Hélène Laverdière.