With the final votes counted, just like that we wave goodbye to the 43rd federal election. Here in Peterborough-Kawartha, Liberal Maryam Monsef, the Women and Gender Equality Minister and Minister of International Development in Trudeau’s cabinet was narrowly re-elected. Compared to 2015, this election was a nail-biter. Monsef won with 26,979 votes (39.2 percent) while Michael Skinner of the Conservatives received 24,096 votes (35.0 percent). Monsef won in 2015 by over 6000 votes, so it seems that Peterborough made some tough decisions this time around, handing victory over to Monsef by a much slimmer margin. Nationally, the Liberals lost their majority government, dropping from 177 to 157 seats. The Conservatives jumped from 95 to 121 seats, which probably saved Scheer’s leadership job. All things considered, knocking off a majority government is a win for the Tories.
Canada is taking a decidedly sharp left turn politically. For progressives, a Liberal minority government would be the most optimal result, after an NDP victory. Now, the Liberals are at the mercy of the Bloc and NDP, two noticeably farther left parties. Universal pharmacare and dental care will become core tenets of any negotiation between Singh and Trudeau. The Liberals will have to play nice, or else face a no-confidence vote. Minority governments are notorious for falling apart after a controversial piece of legislation divides the ranks, usually a budget. They usually last around two years, with the most recent one being Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which lasted three years.
What is acutely obvious is the wide divisions within the country. Western Canada went almost exclusively Conservative, save for one NDP seat in Edmonton. The oil sector does not play nice with the Liberal government. Québec went out in droves for the Bloc Québecois, making them the third-place party in Parliament with 32 seats. The NDP underperformed nationally, only garnering 24 seats, and the Greens finally broke out of BC, scoring a seat in Fredericton, bringing their total seat count to three. Bernier of the People’s Party lost his seat in Beauce, Québec, throwing the future of the party in question and signalling a hard rejection of populism in Canada.
This election came and went almost exactly as the pundits suggested, save for the flop of the NDP and Greens, who both garnered half the seats they were predicted to. It seems that although Singh topped the polls for general approval and preferred Prime Minister, it didn’t translate into votes. The general consensus is that progressives, fearing a Conservative victory, didn’t want to split the vote among the Liberals and NDP, and rallied around Trudeau.
Electoral reform is an important issue these days, with Singh promising to scrap First Past The Post. Trudeau backed off this 2015 campaign promise early into his term, which subjected him to significant ridicule. Social issues tend to still be a hot button issue, especially surrounding Scheer’s stances on abortion and same-sex marriage. Climate change and energy remain issues that split Canadians along provincial and ideological borders, where reconciliation between the crucial oil sector and the Green movement seems to be a pipe dream. You can expect the same old arguments from this government as the one before it.
Overall, the status quo is to be expected, this time with a noticeable orange tinge; Trudeau certainly has his work cut out for him. Geographical divides, Québec sovereignty, and progressives holding the balance of power is a perfect storm for a short government.