Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada West | Canada election results 2019: Trudeau’s second chance
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05 Nov Canada election results 2019: Trudeau’s second chance

A few days after the Canadian federal elections held on 21 October, we propose an analysis of the results obtained by the main contending parties. The head-to-head between Conservatives and Liberals has effectively translated into the need to form a minority government, whose alliances could be Justin Trudeau’s first political leadership challenge.


Laura Borzi


In line with the polls, which went head-to-head throughout the electoral campaign and with a predictable drop in voter turnout (from 68% in 2015 to 62%), the 43rd federal elections in Canada gave Canadians a minority government with the Liberal Party that won 157 seats against the 121 of the Conservative Party.

Trudeau‘s party obtains the leadership of the country for the second time, capitalizing on the legacy of the previous mandate. However, the political scenario is unbalanced to the left and requires a reflection on the future role of Conservatives in Canada. In particular, the leader, the defeated Andrew Scheer, will have to maintain the leadership of the party and propose himself more effectively as the anti-Trudeau than has been the case during an electoral campaign, considered subdued by various commentators.


The results of the federal elections in Canada for the main


The consultation has determined the growth of the Bloc Québécois which stands at 34 seats. The success obtained, with a gain of 22 seats compared to the previous elections, repays the ability of the leader Yves François Blanchet who has not focused on the historical separatism of the Francophone province but has focused rather on current topics such as a series of measures for the environment including opposition to the construction of new pipelines in the province. The Bloc supported Bill 21, the law that prohibits the wearing of religious symbols for those who work in the public sector, arousing much controversy and whose defense, in fact, seems to be configured as a very specific political signal, namely that of the existence of a limit that federal parties cannot exceed in the legislative affairs of the Province.


Singh’s NDP, on the other hand, lost support with respect to the previous consultation and, reaching 24 seats, did not materialize some moments of strength that it enjoyed during the electoral campaign, especially when the positive trend of the greens had some difficulties.


3 seats went to the Green Party, whose electoral performance is historically below the expectations of the electoral campaign and the polls, not least for the “extremist” positions on the environment. Finally, for the right of Maxime Bernier there is a defeat tout cour, with the loss for the founder of the People’s party of his seat in Parliament, perhaps also due to the overly heated tones against multiculturalism and immigration as well as an open distrust of the scientific data on climate change.


Source: Elections Canada


Liberal Party Vs Conservative Party


The electoral battle that ended over a week ago was naturally an affair above all between the Liberal party and the Conservative Party, not to mention a question between Trudeau and Scheer, since they have more than programs for the country, whose economic performance is substantially good, they have leadership issues weighed.


Certainly he counted, at least in part, the will of the voters to choose “the devil they know” without great enthusiasm, having shown no particular communication skills and a certain indeterminateness on some issues on which he was not at ease, such as the abortion or same-sex marriage.

The incomplete elaboration of the environmental strategy also weighed. The idea of eliminating the carbon tax was welcomed in the oil-producing regions, but it raised concerns in the rest of the country with an electorate that was now aware and very sensitive to issues related to climate change.

As far as climate is concerned, the Canadian electorate has essentially supported the Trudeau line, a line that still goes in the direction of reconciling environmental and economic priorities.

The conservatives have not achieved the goal hoped for probably also for another fundamental theme on which they were not entirely convincing, or the economy. Moreover, the only decisive weapon in this sense could have been the deterioration of the quality of life, but the record of growth of the economy of the first Trudeau mandate certainly did not allow to exploit this motivation, which was revealed to be devoid of substance.


The Canadian electoral system


A careful analysis cannot fail to take into account that, despite the Liberals’ victory in Parliament, the popular vote tells a different story: with 33% of the vote, the Premier party lost 6.5% since the last federal election in the 2015, while the Conservatives jumped to 34.4%.

This circumstance finds its explanation in the Canadian electoral system. The FPTP, first past the post, is a relative majority system in single-member constituent colleges. This electoral method develops a tendency to over-represent the larger parties and under-represent the minor ones, with the exception of regional formations (see Bloc Québecois). Indeed, the territorial distribution of the vote is likely to provoke, as happened in this election, that the party with more seats gets less popular votes than its rival. In Canada the Constitutional Act defines how many seats are assigned to each province and the formula is defined according to the population with an independent procedure, but since the constitution guarantees the provinces a minimum number of seats, considerable discrepancies can still occur.

Among the promises (unkept) of Trudeau’s first electoral campaign is the reform of the electoral system. It was argued at the time that the 2015 election would be the last election with the aforementioned system. Although a committee was set up with the representation of all the parties to examine the issue, the project was abandoned in early 2017. It does not seem that the Canadian electorate is particularly disposed in this sense and in fact the attempts to pass to the proportional one even with the endorsement of the smaller parties have been defeated in the referendum held in British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island[1].



The division between the Canadian provinces


Coming now precisely to the geographical distribution of the vote, the Liberals maintained their seats in British Columbia, in the Atlantic area, including Québec, where they remain the largest party, despite the Bloc achieving an increase of 13 points in percentage. It was Ontario, the province that includes Toronto, that allowed the Liberals to remain in government. The keystone turned out to be the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) where the party obtained all 25 Toronto seats, slightly increasing the voting percentage. The same suburban area confirmed 24 seats out of 29 to the Liberals, confirming that the ability of Trudeau’s party to maintain the seats in the eastern and central part of the country, even with narrow margins, made the difference.


In the Prairies, Alberta and Saskachewan and Manitoba, the victory went to the conservatives and it is to this part of the country that Trudeau will have to address and strive to win back the voters. Not by chance in his speech, immediately after the victory, he spoke of these provinces as essential for Canada and asserted the will to work for national unity.

In fact, the division is undeniable. Alberta and Saskatchewan, who will not benefit from a single representative at the government, have ideologically opposed premieres to Trudeau and 3/4 of the liberal caucus derived from Ontario.

The importance that the mining industry (oil and gas) has in these Provinces conflicts with Canadian energy policies that will inevitably be oriented towards the development of energy from non-fossil sources.


Result of the popular vote and seat count in the 2019 Canadian federal election. Source Wikipedia


The new political scenario in Canada: the minority government and the search for alliances


With this scenario the work of the second Trudeau government will begin. The Premier will have to deal with the regional tensions that first inflamed the electoral campaign and now affect the effectiveness of government action. What emerges in the aftermath of the October 21 election day is the need for both major parties to find ways to reconnect with a broader, less geographically concentrated electorate. In short, the goal is to get the parliamentary machinery running at full speed, but in the long term the gaps and issues that polarize the country will have to be filled, except that more and more often in the future they will have to give up to see elected majority governments.


Now the next step is the formation of the new minority government with the challenge of building a governmental structure that gives stability to government action. This team will have to materialize in an alliance with NDP and Greens with a swerve of the Government towards the left of the political scene whose votes will be decisive.

The NDP platform, particularly progressive, included a reform of health care – pharmaceuticals for a universal coverage obtainable only with the taxation of the wealthier classes, in stark contrast to the vision of the liberals.

The other scenario on which the two teams are distant is the one related to the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline that has already caused so much clamor in the past, also with reference to the management of relations with the First Nations.

Equally, the Green party that welcomed in the electoral campaign an immediate transition to the green economy so much as to have been accused of wanting to dismantle the Canadian economy.

Secondary and significant effect in this circumstance is that the scenario that should be configured will be the litmus test to verify the degree of political maturity of the two minor formations and the political skills of Trudeau himself.

The specific challenge of the coming years will also concern the climate emergency, and how to create the conditions of transition to green energy with policies that positively influence work, investments and with as many positive repercussions on communities.

The issue of energy transition is a strongly divisive factor, considering what traditional energy resources (oil and gas) have represented in the past and still represent today for the country’s economy. It will be necessary to provide adequate answers on the future to the multiplicity of stakeholders of reference and this will require a desirable choral collaboration, nevertheless a strong leadership capacity, the one that was the stakes of the electoral confrontation.

If none of the twelve minority governments in Canadian history had the duration of an entire mandate, it is true that in some cases high-impact policies have been adopted in these circumstances that have constituted milestones in Canadian history. With Lester B. Pearson, healthcare and the pension plan were introduced in the 1960s. With Stephen Harper’s conservatives, measures were taken to stimulate spending and cut taxes that led Canada through the recession of the global economy with better performance than other economically advanced states.

Now it is Trudeau’s turn: to him the burden and honor of showing strong leadership and advancing Canada between the agitations of internal divisions and a complex, competitive and uncertain international scenario.


[1] R Breakenridge,“Canadians keep rejecting electoral reform. Maybe we should take heed”, April, 27, 2019

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