Federal election wrap-up

Photo Credit: Free-Images.com

Photo Credit: Free-Images.com

The Liberals only took a minor blow to their seat count on election night, October 21, 2019, securing them another term with a minority government.

The Liberal party, under party leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, had a net loss of 20 seats following last week’s election, going from 177 seats before the election was called to 157 respectively. They lost all of their seats in both Saskatchewan and Alberta, both of which went entirely to the Conservative Party, save for a single seat for the New Democratic Party (NDP).

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was unable to overtake the Liberals in terms of their seat count, despite actually securing a higher percentage of the popular vote, at 34 percent compared to the Liberal’s 33 percent of the vote. Regardless, they did improve their seat count, increasing the size of their opposition from 95 before the election was called to 121. Due to party rules, their election loss means that the Conservatives will have to hold a leadership review vote at their next convention, which will determine Scheer’s fate as leader of the party.

The Bloc Quebecois, under leader Yves-François Blanchet, had their best election result since 2008. They won 32 seats in Quebec, just shy of the Liberal’s 35 and got 32 percent of the popular vote in Quebec, more than any other party. They will sit as the third party in this next session of parliament.

The NDP and their new leader, Jagmeet Singh, were seemingly unable to capitalize on the polling upswing they experienced near the end of the campaign. They underperformed most projections for the party; garnering just under 16 percent of the popular vote and 24 seats, down 3.8 percent from the last election and 15 seats from before the election was called.

The Green party pulled out a surprise win in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This, coupled with the fact that they secured their two incumbent seats, means that the party’s unofficial caucus grew from two to three seats. They also nearly doubled their share of the popular vote, from 3.45 percent in 2015 to 6.50 percent respectively.

The People’s Party under their leader Maxime Bernier, a former Conservative cabinet member and leadership hopeful, were unable to secure a seat in the election. Their most competitive seat, Bernier’s own in Beauce, Quebec, went to the Conservative’s by over 10 percent. The party’s future is unknown, though Bernier has made no indication that he would be stepping down.

Former Liberal cabinet minister, Minister of Justice and Attorney General and Minister of Veteran’s Affairs respectively, turned independent candidate Jody Wilson-Raybould won her seat in Vancouver-Granville. Independent candidates are rarely elected in Canada, largely due to the strength of our party system. Wilson-Raybould is a unique case, however, as she rose to national prominence following her resignation from Trudeau’s cabinet earlier this year in February as a result of the SNC-Lavalin Affair.

Since the election, Trudeau has announced his government’s intention to operate as a minority, without seeking to join into a formal or informal coalition agreements with any of the opposition parties. Instead, they will look to ensure majority support in the house on an issue to issue, or vote to vote basis.

The Bloc, the NDP and the Green party have all indicated their intention to work with the Liberals, despite the government’s commitment to building the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which all three parties are against.

At a recent press conference, the NDP outlined pharmacare, affordable housing, financial aid for students, addressing the climate crisis and Indigenous reconciliation as key issues that his party will support in this minority scenario.

“This minority government gives us a chance to be able to fight for the things that we’ve laid out all along this campaign,” said Singh.

The Bloc’s first and main priority upon returning to the house will be to ensure compensation for Quebec dairy farmers following the changes made to supply management with the renegotiation of NAFTA, according to Blanchet. He says that his party is not interested in toppling the government without proper reasoning.

“When we’re in agreement, we’re in agreement. When we’re not, we’re not. But it’s not because we can probably identify one or two major issues where we won’t agree with the Liberals that we’ll close the door to all forms of discussion,” said Blanchet.

May also outlined her party’s priorities once the house reconvenes.

“Greens believe it is important that we try to compromise where compromise is possible and work together so that the 43 Parliament can be as productive as the Liberal minority of former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson,” said May in an open letter to the Prime Minister.

Conversely, Scheer has made it clear that the Conservatives will be opposing the Liberals at every turn, as well as undergoing a full, detailed post mortem on their election results. Scheer’s aggressive demeanour and action fresh out of the gate is thought to be an attempt to stymie any potential leadership challenges from within his party.

While minority governments are precarious, as elections may potentially be triggered at any point, tradition would suggest that this government should last at least two years. However, in the end, only time will tell.

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