5 things to know about the results of Canadas 43rd general election – Global News

5 things to know about the results of Canadas 43rd general election - Global News
LILLEY: A Trudeau win means a divided Canada
OTTAWA — The Liberals have once more won the most seats in the House of Commons, but this time they do not have an outright majority. So what happens next?

With fewer than the 170 seats needed to command the House on their own, Justin Trudeau will need the support of at least one other party to pass legislation in Parliament — and survive a confidence vote on a speech from the throne laying out his plans for governing.

A generation earlier, Pierre Trudeau was elected with a majority in 1968, then re-elected with only a minority. The elder Mr. Trudeau parlayed two years in minority into a renewed majority in 1974. John Diefenbaker and the Conservatives were elected first as a minority in 1957, re-elected with an overwhelming majority in 1958 but then returned to office four years later as a minority. That second minority lasted less than a year, ending with a 1963 election that delivered a Liberal minority under Lester Pearson.

Video: Canada Election: Justin Trudeau visits Jarry Metro Station in Montreal after election victory | LIVE

Trudeau is still the prime minister and Canada is technically still in the same "ministry" — essentially, the same cabinet or administration — as before the election.

When nobody has a majority, who gets first crack at forming a government? The PM. He visits the Governor-General, declares his intentions and makes his pitch. He will say that he believes, despite his minority, that he can command the confidence of the House. And in this case, he can, likely for some time. The Bloc Québécoiss newly elected MPs have no incentive to put their new jobs at risk, the Conservatives will need to recalibrate, and the NDP is financially and electorally exhausted.

However, the first decision Trudeau makes will likely be to reshuffle his cabinet, considering Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi lost their seats.

And if the current trend in Canadian politics holds, theyre something we could be seeing more of. There were six candidates at the leaders debates, representing six parties with legitimate shots at electing MPs. Even without electoral reform, the menu of voting options has grown, taking votes from both Liberals and Conservatives. That makes it harder to imagine a future of those two parties endlessly trading majorities.

Justin Trudeaus victory is a death knell for Canadas fledgling far-right

Trudeaus next decisions will be to set a time for Parliament to reconvene. Technically, the Governor General summons a new Parliament, but does so on the advice of the prime minister.

Mr. Pearson went on to be one of Canadas most successful prime ministers, at the head of one of historys busiest governments. In five years, his administration introduced universal health care, created the Canadian Pension Plan, ended capital punishment, unified the armed forces and introduced the new Canadian flag.

The timing of reconvening the House has varied throughout Canadian history. In 2015, it took over a month for MPs to be called back to Ottawa, though a new cabinet was sworn in far earlier than that. Given that there is less dramatic change than in that year, its possible we may see Parliament return sooner.

The new Liberal minority government will have to play ball, to some extent, with MPs from other parties. The New Democrats, the party most easily aligned with the Liberals, were on Thursday night heading for a markedly reduced seat count, but still enough to offer the Liberals the needed votes.

When the new Parliament sits, its very first order of business will be the election of a Speaker. Geoff Regan, the current Speaker, was re-elected to his Halifax-area seat Monday but isnt automatically returned to the position.

When a government has a majority, thats a theory that bears little relation to reality. But in a minority, the executive has to pay more attention to MPs, both its own and those of other parties. Power, concentrated in a majority in the office of the Prime Minister, may be spread around.

The longest-serving MP in the House will preside over that election. Louis Plamondon, a Bloc MP, will oversee the proceedings for the fourth time — Plamondon has held his Quebec seat since 1984 and was comfortably re-elected.

Once in office, he attempted to please both the left and right flanks of Canadas centrist voters and instead irritated suburbanites and environmentalists by at once introducing a carbon tax and buying an oil pipeline. His image was further damaged when his government was found to have pushed for judicial leniency for SNC-Lavalin, a scandal-plagued engineering firm based in the politically crucial province of Quebec.

And its after the election of the Speaker that the main event begins, with a speech from the throne. In the speech, the government will lay out its priorities and hint at what direction it will take in the new Parliament.

The speech from the throne is also the first opportunity for opposition parties to try to bring down the government in a confidence challenge. Since the Liberals have less than a majority of seats, they will need to make sure they can secure at least 170 votes to keep the confidence of the House and their grip on power.

Trudeau has a few options. For one, he might bet that no party will want to bring down the government and potentially force another election — or otherwise give the Conservatives the opportunity to form government.

The Liberal party lost a significant number of votes and seats in the election. Trudeaus reputation as Canadas Sweet Woke Bae Prince is damaged, perhaps permanently, because of his onetime penchant painting his face black. Yet in winning the election despite it all, Justin Trudeau has again turned the focus on his right-leaning rivals across the aisle.

In that case, Trudeau would not make any agreements with the opposition parties, bet that he would survive a potential confidence vote anyway, and from there see if he could secure support on an issue-to-issue basis.

Trudeaus personal reputation suffered another blow when pictures emerged of him in blackface – and suffered again when he couldnt say how often hed donned it in public. Though he repeatedly apologised, the incident played into the well-hewed caricature of Trudeau as a hypocritical, out-of-touch dilettante.

But if he wants a more stable situation, Trudeau could make a more formal deal with another party to secure its support on confidence matters, an arrangement dubbed a "confidence and supply" agreement.

Such an deal is in place in British Columbia, where the NDP are in government and maintain a parliamentary majority thanks to support from the provincial Greens.

At the federal level, the most likely partner for such an agreement would be the NDP under Jagmeet Singh. During the campaign, Singh laid out six priorities for supporting another party in a minority, including pharmacare, investments in housing and action on climate change.

On stage in Montreal, he framed the result as a win for a "progressive" agenda and a loss for the Conservative alternative. The parliamentary math likely will require him to regularly satisfy either the Bloc or the NDP, and that may give him licence to lean into that progressive agenda. The Conservatives may go looking for another leader, giving Trudeau more time and room to operate.

In exchange for maintaining the minority government, the NDP would expect to influence government policy on these files.

With less than half of the seats, Trudeau's Liberals will have to keep angling and negotiating to win each day in the House of Commons. With just four seats between Thunder Bay and the Rocky Mountains, the Liberals will be newly challenged by questions about the restive West. And suddenly, the Bloc Québécois is a significant presence again.

Its possible that the Liberals could form a formal coalition with another party — in which members of the other party serve in cabinet — to maintain a majority, though this is unlikely.

He may have saved his campaign, and his government, by responding to the blackface photos as he did: standing in a public square in Winnipeg and taking every question the travelling press corps could muster. And he closed this campaign with a flourish, significantly buoyed by the endorsement of his old friend, Barack Obama.

However they get there, the goal of the Liberals will be to make sure they have at least 170 votes for confidence challenges and pieces of major legislation.

Four years ago, that might have seemed entirely inevitable. But as recently as a week ago it seemed very possible that the Liberals were going to finish in second place. A month ago — when those images of the "Arabian Nights" gala in 2001 were published — it seemed like Trudeau might be finished entirely.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau celebrate at Liberal election headquarters in Montreal on Tuesday Oct. 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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