Canadian Election Analysis | Sarah Stook
- Liberal Party of Canada- Led by Justin Trudeau, a progressive left party with socially liberal views. 157 seats, 33% of the vote (-6.5% from 2015).
- Conservative Party of Canada- Led by Andrew Scheer, an economically liberal but fiscally conservative party. 121 seats, 33.4% of the vote (+2.5% from 2015).
- Bloc Québécois- Led by Yves-Francǫis Blanchet, a centre-left, republican and separatist party. 32 seats, 7.7% of the vote (+3% from 2015).
- New Democrat Party (NDP) – Led by Jagmeet Singh, a democratic socialist party which believes in social democracy. 24 seats, 15.9% of the vote (-3.8% from 2015).
- Green Party of Canada- Led by Elizabeth May, a left wing party with emphasis on environmentalism and social justice. 3 seats, 6.5% of the vote (+3% from 2015).
- Independent- Jody Wilson- Raybould, a former Liberal candidate. 1 seat, 0.4% of the vote (did not challenge during 2015).
- People’s Party of Canada- Led by Maxime Bernier. A right wing populist party with a slight libertarian bent. 0 seats, 1.6% of the vote (did not challenge during 2015).
Justin Trudeau scraped a win for the Liberal Party, but lost the majority he won in 2015. The polls predicted either a slight win for the two major parties or a minority government for Trudeau. With this minority, he will either form a coalition government or rely in a confidence-and-supply deal- the Canadian parliament is similar to ours.
The issues were simple- there weren’t any. While the 2017 UK election was based on Brexit, for example, the Canadians had no major issue to go to the ballot box about. For many, it was about the things we see in our daily lives, like immigration, jobs and the economy. Trudeau presided over a strong economy as well as other national policies. It was more of an approval or disapproval of the Prime Minister’s first term than anything more concrete.
Voters said they liked him, but didn’t love him.
Trudueau had a lot of scandals in his time, from alleged corruption to the recent blackface images that resurfaced recently. Polls, however, indicated that many Canadians- including minorities and opponents- were not bothered by the blackface, so this did not affect his performance.
Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party, suffered from an image problem. Whilst Trudeau does have some boyish charisma, Scheer is as stale as two week old bread. He’s a little too conservative for the mainstream and just cannot talk well. In the debates, he seemed uncaring about issues like the murder of indigenous women. Relatively popular former PM and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper wasn’t used by the Conservative campaign.
The Conservatives won the popular vote, but came out with fewer seats. Does that sound familiar? Well, it does hark back to a certain US federal election nearly three years prior. This does play into an issue with recent democracies, where higher percentages of the vote don’t translate into seats. We saw this in 2010 with the Liberal Democrats, who many thought could win, increased their voter share but actually lost seats. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016, but due to the Electoral College, did not gain the presidency.
What does it mean for the Right?
Trudeau is historically progressive and is more au fait with Obama and Merkel. The G7 is made up of three liberal leaders and four conservative leaders, with the EU perhaps balancing the numbers. Unfortunately for Britain, Trudeau trashed Brexit in his campaign, calling it a ‘far right’ project when referring to Scheer’s support of it. This may be a problem for global support and any post-Brexit trade agreements, where Trudeau may be less receptive.
Trump and Trudeau have a lot of friction in their relationship, with very different personalities and ideologies. Both of them make nice to each other at meetings, but this will not be as warm and cosy as it was between Obama and Trudeau. Though Trudeau may have a new President to deal with in a year, he still must maintain relationships with his populist right wing neighbour.
The Quebec Question
Bloc Québécois won a respectable 41% seats in Quebec this year. The latest poll regarding the Quebec Question occurred in August last year, with 46%/24% for/against, compared to 55%/20% a few months prior. Ever since the violent separatist movement that marred the 60s, it has been a very peaceful campaign.
Referenda on the subject has produced consecutive ‘no’ votes, with 60% voting against in 1980 and a smaller margin of 50.58% in 1995. It is not as mainstream as it was many years prior, a number of people still vote for Bloc Québécois- as evidenced by this election.
We are yet to see if the issue will become more significant in years to come, but it did not prove to be too much of a factor in this election- to the outside world at least.
Canada, our friend in the Commonwealth, has had an election far more normal than ours. Whilst Queen Elizabeth II remains Head of State, and even after, we will have a close relationship with the nicer USA. Trudeau’s election, like all elections, will prove to be very significant in terms of legislation both foreign and domestic. Whilst the conservatives of the world may not be happy to see Trudeau slip in another (semi) victory, we can only hope that we will benefit from it in the future.