Federal election recap
Now that all the results of the September 20th vote are in, it is time to take stock of this extraordinary election. Most analysts believe that this was a useless exercise, even a waste of money given the very similar result to the 2019 election. We beg to differ for reasons we will explain in this article.
Disappointing results for some, but not for all
It is true that every federal party may feel that this election was a missed opportunity. Most of them fell short of their expectations, both in terms of seats and percentage of the vote. However, staying in power, it is clear that the big winner of the campaign is the Liberal Party. True, Justin Trudeau was unable to bring his troops to a majority. However, he won a third consecutive election, remains in power, and his team will occupy all the ministerial positions. Moreover, he will be able to appoint senators, ambassadors and his loyal collaborators will remain those who run the state.
In fact, the question is not whether a government has a majority or a minority, but how it can exercise power and force its agenda. It will be recalled that Stephen Harper, from 2006 to 2011, was very good at running a minority government and acting as if he had a majority.
The exercise of power
We are most likely in a similar situation today. The government remains in a minority situation, but the political backdrop of the country favors Justin Trudeau and his party.
First, the near-total victory in the Greater Toronto Area is a bad omen for all others. Not only is the Conservative party just about out of Vancouver and Halifax, but it’s also now out of both Montreal and Toronto, the two largest cities in the country. Electorally, this is a disaster. Given the multi-ethnicity of Canada's metropolis, it is also the end of the party's, and particularly Jason Kenney's, great efforts to consolidate a strong center-right vote base among first and second-generation immigrant communities. Given the demographic trends in the country, this does not bode well for the conservatives.
Worse still, the Liberal party improved its position in Ontario's mid-sized cities of London, Kitchener, and Ottawa. Finally, the Conservatives lost seats in Calgary, did not win anything new in Quebec, and were shut out of several mid-sized cities outside of Ontario too. Again, the political backdrop is increasingly in favor of the Liberals.
Second, the NDP performed below their own not-so-high expectations. Except for British Columbia, the party has regressed. The fact that the party has been unable to make any headway in Ontario, despite the Conservative decline, is telling. The NDP is returning to its traditional paradigm, apparently satisfied with a 17-18 % share of the vote, 20-35 seats, and the ability to influence the governing party's agenda. The days of the official opposition and Thomas Mulcair's serious attempt to take power are a distant memory.
Third, the Liberals have been able to hold back the Bloc Québécois. Despite the centrality of Quebec issues in the campaign, the Liberal party remains the most successful party in Quebec. The Prime Minister remains very popular in the province and all of his Quebec ministers were somewhat easily re-elected.
As for the Green Party, its defector from Fredericton was elected as a Liberal, and the future will bring even more infighting among environmentalists.
Finally, the opposition parties have attacked the government so much over its decision to call an election, amid a pandemic, that they would be ill-advised to overturn it for quite some time.
As a result, it is easy to see that the Liberal victory was a true victory, not a half-earned one, as many analysts have suggested. The low turnout also demonstrated that Canadian voters did not feel the need to change their government.
In the end, when the new cabinet will be sworn in by the Governor-General, it will be very clear to all Canadians who still run the country.