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Justin Trudeau's Liberals Win Minority

The beleaguered Liberals lost their majority, but Andrew Scheer's Conservatives failed to have a major breakthrough in Ontario or Quebec.

by Steven Zhou
Oct 22 2019, 2:58am

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau addresses his supporters at a campaign rally in Montreal, Quebec, October 17. Image via The Canadian Press

Justin Trudeau's Liberals have won a minority government, with the Conservatives finishing a few dozen seats behind. The result means that the Liberals will need the support of another party, likely the NDP, to pass legislation.

With most ridings called across the country, the Liberals have won 141 seats so far. Andrew Scheer's Conservatives have secured 116 seats. The Liberals won all of the seats in the city of Toronto and most of the surrounding suburbs, and won 30 and 24 seats in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, respectively thus far. That made up the bulk of their path to victory, whereas the Conservatives pretty much swept Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Jagmeet Singh's NDP have won a mere 22 seats, and are leading in three other ridings. The Bloc Quebecois have won 30 seats so far with two leads, all in Quebec, where the Conservatives did much more poorly than they had hoped, picking up just nine seats so far. The Greens have won three seats so far.

Going into the election, the Trudeau Liberals held 177 seats, compared to the Conservatives 99. Both parties lost some major MPs tonight, as longtime Liberal MP Ralph Goodale lost his seat as the West went heavily Conservative, and Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt lost her seat in Ontario, to Liberal (and former Olympian) Adam Van Koeverden.

How a Minority May Work

While his party appears to have lost a number of seats compared to 2015, in many ways the big winner of tonight’s election in NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is in a prime position to be a power broker in the new Parliament.

While a formal coalition with the NDP is relatively unlikely—although not entirely ruled out—Trudeau’s Liberals will need the support from opposition parties to pass legislation in the House of Commons. The Liberals could choose to have a formal (or informal) partnership with the NDP, or to go on a bill-by-bill basis, courting support from either the NDP, the Bloc, or the Conservatives, as needed.

The West is Pissed

The theme of Western alienation also flared up going into election day, with some even raising the suggestion of Alberta seceding if the Conservatives didn’t win big. An Environics survey conducted this fall revealed that some in Saskatchewan are thinking the same thing.

Those sentiments are likely to be reinforced after Monday night, with many saying that the rest of the country don’t get enough from the rest of the country, which they say have become almost irrelevant to their lives.

Both Saskatchewan and Alberta went virtually all blue Monday night. Not exactly a surprise, but the popular vote is pretty impressive. The Conservatives captured 69 percent of Alberta’s popular vote and 66 percent in Saskatchewan.

Votes are still being counted in B.C. but the Conservatives picked up 12 seats there. The Liberals have won five, the NDP have seven (including Jagmeet Singh’s seat), and the Greens have two so far, including Elizabeth May’s seat in Saanich-Gulf Islands.

Mad Max kicked off Fury Road

After all the troll fire and brimstone over the last year, Maxime Bernier lost his seat and the People’s Party of Canada has been left with absolutely nothing to show for their efforts.

Maxime Bernier started the PPC after losing to Scheer in the 2017 Conservative Party leadership race.

Throughout the campaign, Bernier based his party’s messaging primarily on stopping “mass immigration” and preserving Canadia identity in the face of the “cult of multiculturalism.”

This attempt to outflank the Conservatives on the hard right didn’t work, as Bernier lost his seat in Beauce, Quebec to Conservative candidate Richard Lehoux. PPC didn’t get a single candidate elected in the country.

It was revealed with a few days left in the campaign that the Conservative Party had hired ex-Liberal operative Warren Kinsella’s consulting company to “seek and destroy” the PPC via a social media campaign. The idea was to highlight the racist, xenophobic statements made by PPC candidiates on social media. Tough gig.

A ‘dishonest’ election

It was clear well before the election was called in September that the Conservatives were going to attack the Liberals by focusing on Trudeau’s record by way of labelling him a dishonest leader with no integrity. That made up the bulk of Scheer’s messaging to Canadians for weeks on end.

“Not As Advertised” ads portraying Trudeau as a leader who says one thing and does another ran months before the writ dropped, right after the SNC-Lavalin scandal, which saw the prime minister criticized for pushing his justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to give the Quebec company a less serious prosecution.

Trudeau was also criticized by his health minister, Jane Philpott, who was ultimately kicked out of the Liberal caucus along with Wilson-Raybould. Philpott lost her seat.

Both Scheer and the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh consistently attacked Trudeau on SNC-Lavalin scandal and his personal integrity throughout the campaign, particularly in the leadership debates.

Scheer also called for Trudeau to resign as Liberal leader and PM when Time magazine and several Canadian outlets released old photos and a video of a younger Trudeau dressed in brown and blackface.

A lot of attention was given to possible foreign interference in the campaign by the Russian or Chinese government, although there has been no serious indication of either. Though mis-and disinformation did end up playing a significant role leading up to election day, the most prominent fake news didn’t originate from foreign regimes, but from within the country.

For example, a rumour broke out in the middle of the campaign that Trudeau left a teaching job at a Vancouver private school years ago (the same one where he wore brownface to a costume party fundraiser in 2001) because of inappropriate relations with a female student.

The rumour originated in an Ottawa gossip magazine that first said Trudeau had relations with a student’s mother. The accusations have been widely debunked but not before the Conservatives took to their website to help amplify the rumours.

The Conservatives pushed a number of ads throughout the campaign warning that the Liberals are seeking to legalize hard drugs, increase the GST, and implement a hefty “secret” home sales tax. These ads were translated into Chinese and posted onto the Conservatives’ Chinese language Facebook page. They were also spread in Chinese by mass robocalls. There’s no evidence for any of these claims but they formed a substantial portion of the Conservative electoral strategy nonetheless.

This resulted in critics accusing the Conservatives of campaigning on fear and smears. Along with saying that the Liberals were looking into legalizing all drugs, Scheer also attacked Trudeau’s border and immigration policies, warning at an announcement weeks before election day that gangs like MS-13 might be making their way into Canada.

All three parties made their case for being the party that would be the best for making life easier and more affordable for the middle class. Whereas both the Conservatives and the NDP highlighted Trudeau’s failures and attacked his leadership integrity, it was the latter that mixed this negative campaigning with a more positive, “hope-and-change” message.

Singh capitalized off of the Liberal-Conservative tussle by pointing to it as the typical petty politics that kept leaders from getting things done by working together.

Singh’s strong debate performances allowed him to drive this point home while presenting himself and the NDP as the trustworthy progressive voice that could break through the status quo. Buttressed by an friendly, everyman demeanor, Singh’s approval rating surged.

His party, which at one point doubted his leadership abilities, also enjoyed a substantial bump in the polls. However, that bump still resulted in a significant loss of seats from the 2015 election.

The Bloc, leading or elected in 33 seats as of press time, surged in Quebec over the last month, from around 19 percent in early September to 30 percent on election day. Led by Yves-Francois Blanchet, the Bloc’s revival comes after getting decimated two federal elections in a row, prompting many to doubt the place of Quebec nationalism in Canadian politics.

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