Canada’s Election: Here Are The Results
On Oct. 21, Canadians went to the polls to choose who would be the Prime Minister. Incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau narrowly won reelection. Trudeau’s Liberal Party emerged with a plurality of 157 out of the 338 seats — 13 short of the 170 seat majority needed to have a governing mandate. The opposition Conservative Party led by Andrew Scheer won 121 seats, an increase of 26 seats. The Bloc Québécois, a separatist party from the province of Quebec led by Yves-François Blanchet, increased its share of seats from 10 seats to 32 seats to become the third-largest party in the Parliament of Canada — an achievement the party has not reached since 2008. The New Democratic Party, a social-democratic party led by Jagmeet Singh, entered the election with 39 seats, but was reduced to 24 — the party’s worst result since 2004.
The latest election displayed the growing regional differences between Eastern and Western Canada. In the prairies, the Conservative Party won all 14 seats in the province of Saskatchewan and 33 out of 34 seats in Alberta, while the New Democratic Party took one. The Liberals lost the only seat they held in Saskatchewan and all four seats they held in Alberta. However, they did capture all 25 seats in the greater Toronto area. The loss of the Liberals’ lone Saskatchewan seat particularly stings considering that it was held by Ralph Goodale. Goodale was first elected in 1974 and served as the Liberal Party’s deputy leader and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. With Goodale’s defeat, the Liberal Party no longer has any representation in the province.
While the Liberal Party won the most seats to secure a minority government, the Conservative Party won the popular vote with 6,155,662 votes, a share of 34.44% to the Liberals 5,915,950 votes, a share of 33.10%. This is the first time in decades that a prime minister won an election while losing the popular vote.
The results of the latest election have sparked new calls for electoral reform. While Trudeau and the Liberal Party campaigned on electoral reform in the 2015 election, the party failed to reach a consensus with other parties on what the new system should be. New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh called the electoral system “broken” as his party was relegated to fourth place behind the Liberals, Conservatives, and Bloc Québécois while finishing third in the popular vote with 2.8 million votes to the Bloc’s 1.3 million. An analysis by the National Post showed that: “Under straight proportional representation, the Liberals would have won 116 seats (45 fewer than they actually won), the Conservatives would have won 112 (five fewer than Monday’s result) and the NDP would have received 54 seats, which would have translated to 30 more NDP MPs in Ottawa.”
Minority governments are not uncommon in Canada. From 2004 until 2011, Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin and Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper governed with minority governments. While Trudeau will remain prime minister, having a minority government will not bode well for him. Without a majority, he will have to form a formal coalition with another party, secure a confidence and supply agreement, or look for support from the other parties on a case-by-case basis to pass bills.
Historically, minority governments have lasted less than two years. However, the last time a Trudeau was tasked with a minority government, the next election resulted in a majority. Pierre Trudeau, the current prime minister’s father, won the 1972 Canadian election with 2 seats more than the main opposition, Progressive Conservatives. The opposition parties held a vote of no confidence which demanded an early election. On election day in 1974, Pierre Trudeau and the Liberals gained 32 seats to secure a majority government. If Justin Trudeau can weave the same magic his father did, his party will be in good shape.
The Liberal minority government will face its first serious challenge when Trudeau will deliver a speech from the throne to put forth his agenda. The agenda will then be up for a vote. If Trudeau does not secure a majority of the votes, his government collapses. The other parties are then invited to form a coalition, and if no coalition is formed, a new election commences. If a new election is called, it is uncertain what will happen. Considering that Trudeau and the Liberals lost the popular vote, it is in their best interest to avoid another election at all costs.
Photo Caption: Canadian Parliament, where Trudeau will deliver his agenda.
Photo Credit: wnk1029 at Pixabay.com