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Michael Ignatieff resigns as Liberal Party leader

Former Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff says he will resign as the leader of Canada's Liberal Party after a terrible defeat.

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Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff speaks to the media at a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa, Canada. (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff announced he will resign as the leader of Canada's Liberal Party after a terrible defeat in Monday's federal elections.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives won about 40 percent, enabling them to take 167 seats in Parliament. With a clear majority, they have a strong mandate to push their pro-business agenda.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) became the official opposition by claiming 102 seats, and Ignatieff's Liberals took 34.

This was the worst defeat in the history of the Liberal Party and the first time in Canadian history the party did not come in first or second, BBC reports.

Ignatieff said Tuesday that Conservative attack ads had a big impact on the election.

"My attachment to the country, my patriotism were questioned, my motivations were questioned and that had a political effect, there's no doubt about that, but I have to also take my responsibilities," he told the BBC.

There is still hope among some Canadians, though, that the Liberal Party will recover.

“I don’t think voters moved en masse to the NDP as their party of choice,” political scientist Brooke Jeffrey of Concordia University told Montreal Gazette. “In desperation, failing to see in the Liberal Party what they had come to expect from the Liberal Party, they looked around for anything else at all that was an alternative to Stephen Harper."

“This is not a permanent problem for the Liberal Party," she said. "It’s correctable.”