Liberal Minority in the 43rd Canadian General Election

On October 21st, 2019 the 43rd Federal election was held in Canada.  The result was a victory for the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau, who received enough support to gain a minority Government, despite having a majority in the last election.

There were 338 seats being contested, with 170 seats required to form a majority Government.

The Liberals faced stiff competition from the Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer.  At dissolution, the Liberals had 177 seats, the Conservatives 95, the NDP 39, the Bloc Québécois 10, the Greens 2, and the People’s Party of Canada 1.  

The election breaks down as follows:

Number Popular
of Seats Vote
Liberals 157 33.10%
Conservatives 121 34.44%
Bloc Québécois 32 7.70%
NDP 24 15.90%
Green 3 6.50%
People’s Party 0 1.60%

 

There were some highlights coming out the election, include:

  • Ralph Goodale (Liberal) lost his seat to the Conservative candidate Michael Kram.
  • Jane Philpott failed to be re-elected, this time as an independent, after being kicked out of the Liberal Party over the SNC-Lavalin scandal.  She finished in third place behind the winner Helena Jaczek (Liberal) and Theodore Antony (Conservative.)
  • Lisa Raitt (Conservative) was defeated by Liberal candidate Adam van Koeverden, after 11 years as an MP for Milton (renamed from Halton in 2015)
  • Jody Wilson-Raybould was elected as an independent after being kicked out of the Liberal Party early in the year.
  • The Bloc Québécois gained 22 seats and regained party status in the House of Commons.
  • The Conservatives gained 26 seats, mostly from the Liberals who lost 2o seats overall.
  • Maxime Bernier lost his own seat and his newly formed party, the People’s Party of Canada failed to win any seats.
  • The NDP, under Jagmeet Singh, lost 15 seats.  This is a blow to the party that was looking to be the best option against the Liberals and the Conservatives, but now hold significant power in the House of Commons with 24 seats as those 24 seats are required to get a majority through the House Commons.  The NDP has indicated that they would be interested in working with the Liberals.
  • The Conservatives won 33 out of 34 seats in Alberta, and all 14 seats from Saskatchewan.  The lone seat in Alberta that did not return a Conservative to the House, went to the NDP.
  • The Greens now have three MPs, two from British Columbia and one from Fredricton, New Brunswick.
  • The Liberals won all the seats in Toronto, and all but four seats (all Conservative) in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

It will be interesting to see how the next couple of years work out.  There are a couple options for the Liberals and the Conservatives to consider:

For the Liberals:

  • Try to maintain power without the assistance of any other party.  But it is would create a very volitile situation as the Goverment could lose the support of a majority in the House of Commons at any time.  This would either trigger an election or force the Governor General to call on Mr. Scheer to attempt to form a Government.  And if that Government could not maintain a majority it would trigger an election.
  • A formal Coalition with another party – most likely the NDP.  However, a fomal coalition is rare in Canada, especially in Federal politics.  This would give the other party involved seats in Cabinet, but would provide some stability.
  • Creating a Supply and Confidence Agreement with the NDP.  This would allow the Government to function as the NDP would be required to support the Liberals on supply bills (i.e. bills involving raising or spending money such as the Budget) or on confidence motions (i.e. a motion of No-Confidence.)  However, the Liberals would likely have to make concessions, especially with regards to the Budget, in order for the NDP to agree.  The NDP would be free to vote against the Government if they chose on other issues.  But this agreement may or may not last a full term of four years.

For the Conservatives:

  • A Formal Coalition Agreement with both the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.
  • A Confidence and Supply Agreement with both the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.
  • A Formal Coalition involving one party with a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the other party.

For the Liberals, their best option would be for a formal coalition with the NDP.  While concessions will have to be made, some concessiona with another party would have to occur for any legislation to pass.  However, a Confidence and Supply Agreement, which could last a minimum of two years, but preferably for a full four year term, would at least allow the Government to remain in power although the party would still have look for support to get other legislation passed.

For the Conservatives, the odds of a Coalition involving both of the other parties is less likely.  Even a Coalition with one party, supported by the other party with a Confidence and Supply Agreement is unlikely as the NDP and the Conservatives have a large difference in their political leanings.  Also, while technically possible, it is highly unlikely that the Governor General would appoint Mr. Scheer as Prime Minister until after the House reconvenes and the Government loses a vote of no-confidence as it would likely trigger a Constitutional Crisis to do so otherwise as it is the normal practise in Canada for the party that has the largest number of elected candidates has the first crack to form a Government.

Regardless of what happens, Canada is in for an interesting ride.  Buckle up, the road ahead will likely be very bumpy.

About Edward Brain

I am a long time condo activist and have a background in Business Administration.
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