Last night’s results proved that some Canadians are disappointed with Justin Trudeau, but not enough to boot him from office. The Liberals lost seats in every province, reducing their 2015 results by 29 seats. The Conservative party gained 23 seats and won more votes overall than the Liberals. The Liberals, however, are left with a strong enough minority government that a formal coalition may not be necessary. They could get the support of the Conservatives, NDP, or Bloc Québécois, depending on what issue they’re advancing in the House of Commons.
Quebec was the big battleground of the night, and the province that saw the most change. Quebec voters made a major swing to the Bloc Québécois at the expense of the Liberals and the NDP and put a damper on the Conservative’s hopes of making gains. The NDP dropped down to one seat, losing 14 in the province. The Liberals lost six, the Conservatives lost two, and the Bloc gained 22 seats. The seat count in Quebec is now as follows:
- Liberal: 35
- Bloc: 32
- Conservative: 10
- NDP: 1
The big question in the coming days will be what role the Bloc will play in the new parliament. As the third-place party in a minority, they could wield a degree of power in a situation where the NDP and Conservatives do not support the government’s policies, pushing a more Quebec-centric agenda.
Some of the Quebec riding results worth noting:
- Liberal Stephen Guilbeault’s victory in the historically Bloc, turned NDP riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie. Guilbeault is a prominent environmental activist.
- Former Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe’s son won in Lac-Saint-Jean against the incumbent Liberal.
- Alexandre Boulerice remains in Rosemont, securing the only NDP seat in the province.
- Popular NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau loses in Berthier-Maskinongé to the Bloc.
- The NDP’s Pierre-Luc Dusseault, the youngest MP ever elected to parliament, lost his seat in Sherbrooke to the Liberals.
Most of Justin Trudeau’s incumbent minister and star candidates were elected and re-elected, including Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Toronto Centre, Infrastructure minister and MP for Saint-Maurice-Champlain François-Philippe Champagne, long-time friend of Trudeau’s and MP for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Soeurs Marc Miller, and star environmentalist Guilbeault.
Public Safety Minister and long-time MP Ralph Goodale lost his seat in Regina, as did Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi in Edmonton.
The seat breakdown for the House of Commons following the final vote count is as follows:
- Liberal Party: 157 (33.1% of the popular vote)
- Conservative Party: 121 (34.4%)
- Bloc Québécois: 32 (7.7%)
- New Democratic Party: 24 (15.9%)
- Green Party: 3 (6.5%)
- Independent: 1 (0.4%)
- People’s Party: 0 (1.6%)
The night was a disappointment for Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer. While he won the popular vote and polled higher than Trudeau through much of the campaign, his support was too concentrated regionally to lead to a higher seat count.
It’s a similar situation for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP. While Singh avoided the complete collapse of his party that was predicted before the writ dropped, the NDP still lost a substantial portion of their support across the country. Singh will need to convince his base that he’s the person best able to keep Justin Trudeau in check during the lifetime of this minority government.
One of the surprises of the night was the fall of Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party. Securing zero seats and losing his own riding of Beauce, last night’s elections brought an end to the ex-Conservative minister’s hopes of launching a populist right-wing movement in Canada.
But of course, the big winner of the night was the Bloc and their leader Yves-François Blanchet. After wallowing in irrelevance for eight years, the Bloc staged a comeback by convincing Quebec voters that they were the only option to protect the province’s interests. The federalist onslaught against Bill 21, the law forbidding the wearing of religious garb by public officials, drove francophone voters into the Bloc's waiting arms. Blanchet was helped by low expectations at the start of the campaign and his strong debate performances. The challenge for him will be to show his voters that he can deliver on his promise to keep Ottawa accountable.
What can we expect from a second term Liberal government? Here are some of their key promises made during this year’s campaign:
- Make the first $15,000 earned tax free
- Lower Canadian cell phone bills by 25%
- Lower childcare fees by 10%
- Ban single-use plastics
- Reduce corporate taxes by 50% for Clean Tech businesses
- Make internal free trade a reality
- Set a net-zero emissions objective by 2050
- Instate corporate taxes on revenue generated by the world’s tech giants in Canada
- Introduce a 10% luxury tax
- Continue with their carbon tax
- Plant two billion trees
- Invest profits from the Trans Mountain Pipeline into Canada’s clean energy sector
- Install up to 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country
- Ban military-style assault rifles