Trudeau’s Snap Election Falls Short of Majority Government, Yields Low Voter Turnout

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

By Luciano Cesta and Meera Raman
Boston University News Service

Justin Trudeau will keep his job as Canada’s 23rd prime minister after a snap election produced a House of Commons strikingly similar to the last one. Trudeau’s Liberal Party will be in charge of a minority government once again, where they will need to seek support from other parties to legislate their agenda.

With all ridings called, the Liberals collected 158 seats while the Conservative Party, led by Erin O’Toole, won 119 seats. 34 seats will go to the Bloc Quebecois, the Quebec nationalist party, 25 to the New Democratic Party, who position themselves left of the Liberals, and 2 to the Green Party. 

Overall, the Liberals gained two seats, Conservatives lost two, the Bloc and the NDP gained one seat each and the Green Party lost a seat.

A lack of change in parliament

The House of Commons will reconvene on Oct. 18, structured in much the same way that it was before. Trudeau’s minority government will need to seek the support of other parties to forward its agenda.

He must build support among other parties to get his election promises through parliament, which include a plan to build 1.4 million homes, continued efforts toward a plan for $10 per day childcare and a plan for a net-zero emissions oil and gas industry by 2050.  

While the overall power structure of the parliament has not changed, four cabinet ministers, all of whom are women, lost their seats or didn’t run for reelection. Their loss deals a blow to Trudeau’s commitment to gender parity.

A ‘Pointless’ Election

Many Canadian political analysts indicated Monday’s election, which was estimated to cost over $600 million Canadian dollars, would produce a government that looks similar to the one before the vote. 

About 62% of Canadians voted in this election, making the voter turnout the lowest it has been since 2008. With so few people exercising their democratic right in an election that arguably caused further polarization during an unprecedented time, many criticized Trudeau’s government for calling this election at all. 

One of the strongest criticisms of Trudeau’s election is from Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, a known foe of the prime minister’s.

“This was the most pointless election in Canada’s history,” Moe told reporters. “The prime minister spent over $600 million of your dollars, taxpayer dollars, and five weeks further dividing the country to arrive at the same result that we had two months ago in the House of Commons”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford offered a more hopeful tone. 

“This has been an extremely difficult and divisive election and I would like to take this opportunity to urge unity,” Ford said in a statement

Moving Forward

At the moment, the future of Canadian elections looks somewhat unclear, though patterns appear to be emerging. Canadians have remained consistent in their regional voting patterns during the past two elections, with elections being practically won in and around major cities. 

O’Toole, who’s party won the most votes overall, spent much of his concession speech detailing how he’ll take on the Liberals in the next election.

“I challenged the prime minister to put the unity of this country and the well-being of its people first. And I told him, if he thinks he can threaten Canadians with another election in 18 months, the Conservative Party will be ready. And whenever that day comes, I will be ready to lead Canada’s conservatives to victory. Thank you, Canada, let’s get to work.”

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