The Results Are In — And So Is Trudeau!

A couple of weeks ago, John Fioravanti wrote a guest post about what was then the upcoming elections in Canada.  At the time, the race between incumbent Justin Trudeau and newcomer (Trump clone) Andrew Scheer was neck-in-neck.  Last Sunday, the much-awaited election took place and John has graciously written a new guest post to explain and help us understand the results …


CANADA’S FEDERAL ELECTION: 2019

john fioravantiOn Monday, October 21st, voters in Canada returned Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party to power in Ottawa with a strong minority government. The party standings in our 338 seat House of Commons at the time of this writing is:

LIBERALS – 157   CONSERVATIVES – 121   BLOC QUEBECOIS – 32

NEW DEMOCRATIC – 24   GREEN PARTY – 3   INDEPENDENT – 1

For readers who are unfamiliar with the Parliamentary democratic system, here is a brief explanation. We have two legislative bodies that make laws. The House of Commons is elected and electoral ridings are drawn by the principle of representation by population. Members serve 4-year terms and all stand for election at the same time. The Senate is a body appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. All bills must pass both houses to become law, but only the House of Commons can force a new election before the mandatory 4-year term has expired.

FOUR PARTY LEADERS

Left to right … Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau

We do not have a separate election to choose the Prime Minister. The PM and the Cabinet are selected from elected members of the largest party in the Commons.

Canada’s Prime Minister is the leader of the party that wins the most seats in the Commons in an election. He/she is appointed by the Governor General who represents the Queen. The PM and Cabinet must maintain the support of a majority of elected members in the Commons or resign their appointed positions in the executive branch. In a Parliamentary system, the members of the executive branch are first elected to the legislative branch – the House of Commons.

In 2015, Trudeau’s Liberals won a clear majority of the seats in the House of Commons. But Trudeau lost ground in 2019 and was left with a strong minority. He needed 170 seats to win a majority and fell 13 short.Electoral Map 2019A look at the electoral map of Canada makes it clear that the country is fractured along regional lines. The greatest number of Liberal seats came from eastern Canada – the Maritime Provinces, Quebec, and Ontario. The Conservative’s stronghold was west of Ontario – especially in the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Third place Bloc Quebecois support came exclusively from Quebec as its party platform is Quebec nationalist – to protect and nurture the French language and culture in Quebec. The BQ cares not about the rest of Canada.

I was very disappointed that Elections Canada pegged voter turnout at 66% of eligible voters. That bodes ill for democracy in Canada and it also speaks to voter disapproval of all the parties. Another interesting fact is that the Conservatives won the popular vote netting 35% while the Liberals trailed with just 33%. The Liberals had concentrated support in the large urban areas – especially Montreal and Toronto, while Conservative support was concentrated in the less populous rural areas.

Trudeau Family

Justin Trudeau & family — election night

It is fair to say that Trudeau was spanked by the voters for his transgressions in the SNC Lavalin affair and the blackface pictures. His party won 20 fewer seats than in 2015. On the other hand, it is clear that Scheer was not embraced by voters and was criticized for his attack-style campaign. One commentator said that Trudeau’s political problems should have been enough to turf the Liberals out of power altogether. Scheer failed to capitalize.

ANDREW-SCHEER-ELECTION-NIGHT-FAMILY-810x445

Andrew Scheer & family — election night

To me, the big message of this election was that the voters are fed up with partisan politics determining how Parliament will tackle or ignore the serious problems facing the country. The only party that put forward a comprehensive platform on the environment was the Green Party. They finished with 3 seats, just one more than in 2015. Our Indigenous Peoples are suffering throughout the country with excessively high poverty rates and many reserves have filthy drinking water. This is a terrible travesty. The only party that has addressed these issues to any degree is the Liberal Party – yet they have accomplished very little in this regard.

Politicians need to wake up to the reality that they must work together as leaders, not partisan plotters, for the benefit of ALL the people. This is why the voters inflicted a minority government on the country. It is true that minority governments are unstable because the opposition members outnumber the government members in any and all votes in the Commons. It is also true that this built-in threat forces politicians on all sides to work together and exercise compromise for the benefit of all.

Canada has elected minority governments in the past and some worked well, while others did not. On average, statistics point out that minority governments last less than two years! What happens then? We have another very expensive election. As I see it, we need to commit financial resources and energy to bring carbon emissions under control so that one day soon our country will no longer depend on fossil fuels. We also need political parties to operate respectfully and cooperatively and serve the nation instead of themselves.

45 thoughts on “The Results Are In — And So Is Trudeau!

    • You’re very welcome. I enjoyed putting this post together and I’m heartened by the interest shown here. Like most countries, Canada is ever-changing and becoming more multicultural by the day. We don’t have the mass shootings that occur regularly among our American cousins but gun violence is quickly becoming a more urgent issue here. Social and political trends are similar in most of our western countries because of the news and social media. Your last line is quite telling – the struggle for peaceful co-existence is ongoing.

      Liked by 2 people

    • My thanks to YOU, John … your post was excellent and I so appreciate you taking the time to help us better understand your system, for it is quite different from our own. And thanks for the re-blog!

      Like

      • I goofed, Jill, and reblogged it to the old site – so I used the opportunity to delete the old site – and I couldn’t reblog it to my new site after that.

        Like

  1. John, this is a great post. I was aware of the result and sent my commiserations to an environmental activist friend of mine supporting the ‘Green Party’ of Elizabeth May. He was quite happy with the minority government because it at least holds the government to greater account on any issue. The Liberals will have to work harder to gain public confidence. That said, the threat from Scheer Conservative supporters in the mid-Western provinces (oil country) is palpable. An artist painted a wonderful tribute to the environmental work of Greta Thunberg to celebrate her visit to Thunberg. The paint was barely dry before oil industry moved in to deface Greta’s depicted face with “This is Oil Country,” and other really tasteless swear words, eventually obliterating the painting. Oil equates to jobs in Alberta, so people do not want to see their livelihoods disappear. The hate for Greta’s message is terrible… I would worry for her safety in front of these people.
    The politics in Canada follows the English model except we have a house of Lords (made up from elites given titles by the Queen) instead of a ‘Senate.’

    We have a minority Government and it has created an atmosphere of greater accountability, but it also stops us moving forward on issues like climate change, health care, jobs, etc (never mind the stalemate of Brexit). I don’t know that the Trudea Government will fare much better. He is going to have to pick his allies from the left or the right… To sit in the middle will mean no firm action on Climate change, environmental issues, Native issues or the economy. He is in an unenviable position and will have to triple his efforts to do the right thing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this, Collette! Trudeau promised to build the Trans Mountain Pipeline, yet Alberta and Saskatchewan voters turfed out the few Liberals they elected in 2015. I don’t think the Liberals have a chance to win any support in the oil patch – no matter what they do. I honestly don’t think the NDP and Greens will stop supporting Trudeau if he moves ahead on climate issues. I think he needs to be decisive and garner support from wherever he can. Yes, I’m aware of the House of Lords in the UK where nobility inherits their seats in that house. We never had a noble class and designed our Senate to represent the regions of Canada equally. They are similar in that they have less political power than the elected House of Commons in each country.

      Liked by 2 people

      • There are a number of people here opposed to the House of Lords (including the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn) who would like to replace the House of Lords with an elected ‘Senate’ but the function would be much the same… I think.

        Liked by 2 people

        • There have been several attempts to turn our appointed Senate into an elected body, but they have largely failed. That needs to be reformed as well. We just have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You guys in the UK are in a pickle with the House of Lords – that was the original house of parliament. Still, constitutions need to reflect the people of the nation, not just the ghosts of history.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. John, I am delighted Trudeau won, but I encourage him to keep his nose clean. He got reprieves from the electorate on two sets of concerns. He will not get a third.

    Note to all, but especially those running for office. Black face is a racist action, make no mistake. If you have done this, you have two choices – do not run for office or come clean on all poor decisions. It will come out.

    Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Keith, I’m delighted too. Trudeau will serve us well on the world stage going forward. I agree, he really needs to watch his step. Hopefully, there are no more skeletons in his closet.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you John. You’ve educated all of us. 66% turnout? Wow, we’d be ecstatic at that number down here. If we got that, no way Trump would possibly win again. I can dream at least!

    Liked by 4 people

    • My pleasure. I hear you about your voter turnout, but when 1/3 or more of eligible voters stay home, they are handing the country over to fanatics. My mother was a sharp cookie. When you guys elected Nixon in ’68, she stood at the sink the next morning, sighed heavily and said that voters get the government that they deserve. I was just 17 then and not politically savvy, so it was much later that I truly understood her words. In Canada, we have always watched your elections very closely because no nation has as much impact on us as the United States. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, said to Nixon in 1969: “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

      Liked by 4 people

      • Your mother was a smart lady. We DO get the government we deserve. The election of Trump proves that point. Basically, he won by about 70k votes over 3 so-called battleground states. We must do better in 2020. No excuses!

        Liked by 3 people

        • Thank you. It is especially galling when a presidential candidate loses the popular vote but wins in the Electoral College – which needs to be abolished when you consider why it was created in the first place.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Yep, it’s no longer viable. We need to get rid of it, one way or the other. The Republicans would never agree to such a thing however, because they know it’s the only way they can ever win presidential elections. It would take a Constitutional amendment and as you know, that takes forever. It’s a real problem.

            Liked by 2 people

  4. I have to disagree with some of the things you say, but for the most part you picked up on most things. However, in my experience, majority governments hurt Canadians. Stephen Harper, our previous Prime Minister before Trudeau, almost ruined the nation with his conservative policies. Most Canadians are nice people who want social programs to protect the 99% from the 1%. Harper tried to create the opposite, and eventually people caught on. But the Trudeau Liberals also care about the 1% more than is needed, and so our income inequality will continue to rise, and the chances of universal pharmacare will be slim. At least we should keep our public health care, which the conservatives want to destroy.
    Quebecers spoke loud and clear they no longer believe English Canada cares about them. Most of the high-native population areas went NDP, again, because the two big parties never come through on their promises. The prairie provinces, for whatever reason, think the conservatives are best for them, and this leaves the country politically divided.
    How do we bring everyone together? Majority governments will never do that. Only minority governments can, but few people can see that. They want their party to rule. Sharing power is something most people do not want to do. If a good relationship can be struck, I am all for it.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I don’t know, I think you and I agree on most of these issues. The unfortunate reality about minority governments is that the politicians figure they can make it last for around two years and then blow it up when they think they have an advantage in public opinion polls. If we eliminate that possibility, a four-year minority government could accomplish wonders! It might even bring about the proportional representation that Trudeau backed away from after promising it in 2015. Proportional representation will only benefit the smaller parties and make majority governments much more difficult to achieve. That’s why the Liberals and Conservatives don’t support that reform. Too bad.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. I worked the polls, so I wasn’t home to watch the results come in. Just to add to your post, yes, politics are divided by region. For years federal funds have been issued by province from the “haves” to the “have nots”. Because the western provinces have the oil, many westerners believe these transfer payments are unfair. Add the on-again off-again western pipeline issue, and many westerners are angry at left-wing politicians. Hopefully a minority government will find a way to bring us together again.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for your insights about federal/provincial transfer payments. I sincerely hope you’re right. One reason I don’t sympathize with Albertans who complain about having to give some oil profits to less well-off provinces is because they have very short memories. Since Confederation in 1867, Ontario has been the economic engine of the country and supported the have-not regions – including Alberta until they discovered they had oil to exploit. Ontarians never belly-ached about wanting to exit Canada. Good grief!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Congrats! Thank god the Canadian ppl are rational, educated ppl not so easily duped by the growing populist movement. I do hope your vision comes true and all parties come together for the benefit of the nation. That’s all everyone wants, if not for manipulative politicians blinding, hoodwinking the voting public.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Unfortunately, the largest single block of voters supported a populist party. I had to laugh out loud when I saw pictures on TV this morning of western protestors holding signs asking Trudeau why he hates westerners so much. I guess anyone who dares to disagree with them must hate them.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. ‘Minority government’. “forces politicians on all sides to work together and exercise compromise for the benefit of all.”

    Yes! We’ve had minority govts here in Australia as well, and I believe this is the direction democracy in the West must go if it is to survive. Very glad Trudeau got back in. Fingers crossed for the future.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I think you’re right about the value of minority governments. I just wish we could remove the weapon of the non-confidence vote that can force the party in power to resign and mandate that the minority government would operate for the full four years. That would prevent the party in power from engineering their own defeat or an opposition party to bring them down because the opinion polls tell them they could win an election at that moment. Our democracies need many reforms – and proportional representation is an important reform that will give under-represented regions a greater voice in Parliament.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Hi John. I’m not sure what the rule is here in Australia, but we did have a minority govt a few years back that lasted close to 3 years. Actually, thinking back, it was the govt itself that called the election so there can’t have been a no confidence thing. Hmm…should look that up.
        I’m a little surprised the Canadian system doesn’t have compulsory voting either. I always assumed that Aus. and Canada were very similar, but clearly not in this.
        I think reforms are needed right across the board if democracy is to survive.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I think our two systems are more alike than not. However, parliamentary democracy has continued to evolve in Canada, Australia, and the UK over the years – so there are differences. On the one hand, I like compulsory voting to get people to do their civic duty, but I’ve also had misgivings that it violates people’s freedom in that way. It’s probably better for democracy to implement mandatory voting.

          Liked by 1 person

            • I’m sure there are lots of idiots who do just that! This is what happens when people are ignorant of our shared history about the struggle for democracy and freedom. I cringe when I think how we disrespect all the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so those idiots could be disrespectful. It makes my blood boil.

              Liked by 2 people

          • To be honest, I spent most of my life thinking that everyone had compulsory voting. I also thought that having an election on a Saturday so everyone could vote more easily was ‘normal’. Ditto all the other little things that help, such as having local schools as voting booths so you’re never far from a voting location. I was truly shocked when I realised that we’re the exception rather than the rule. I was even more shocked when I realised how few people vote in other western countries.

            I don’t see voting as a civic duty though. To me it’s self-defence. Representational democracy is a flawed system at the best of times. Our governments have proved that, time and time again. And the only leverage we have is the ability to vote them out and someone else in.
            If I had the power, I’d do away with the ‘party’ system altogether. Representatives should represent only those people who voted for them.
            I’d also mandate that the pool of candidates for each electorate should be chosen at random from the population of an area – like jury duty. No more ego-driven, professional politicians… -sigh-
            And then I wake up. 😦

            Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s