If you accept the premise that governments have a shelf life, then last night's result in Quebec represents the best case scenario for the "rest of Canada". Leaders rarely volunteer retirement, fact is the attachment to power means most are forced out rather than taking the graceful exit route. With that reality in mind, the Quebec Liberals survived- they can now cleanse and retool- while the Parti Quebocois operates under a very tight leash, with an entirely underwhelming mandate.
Quebecers clearly wanted change, but it is very telling that despite this sentiment the PQ couldn't manage a third of the vote, less than 1% more than the Liberals, only 4 seats ahead. If the Jean Charest Liberals are tired and spent, then the Parti Quebecois looks decidedly stale as a favorable option.
Marois has no mandate to push ahead with a referendum, never mind force legislation that leads to a less inclusive Quebec. In fact, the PQ faces a solid majority who will block any intimation, both in terms of seat count and the clear raw vote message sent by voters. Plow ahead on sovereignty at your own peril, there is no appetite for the PQ road map.
The Quebec Liberals were never going to reign forever, the natural flip was inevitable. That said, this "change" is very much a paper tiger, a precarious mandate that will blunt a sizable lurch. Charest lost his seat, further he has lost the confidence of the electorate, the Quebec Liberals need some fresh faces to appear a viable option again. The good news, the Liberals remain a large presence, the road back less daunting that could otherwise be expected. As well, federalist forces dwarfed the separatist options, this result is anything but a alarming result for Canadian unity. You could well posit the PQ's unyielding commitment to a referendum nobody wants is what prevented a much larger victory, as well as more pronounced defeat for the Charest Liberals.
Obviously, any PQ government is not "good news" in the wider sense. However, under the circumstances, with an eye to historical context, the nature of government, the ebb and flow under the guise of "change", last night represents a fairly solid result for the Canadian federation. There will be plenty of bluster and provocation from the PQ, but little in the way of concrete erosion under this current configuration.