“We all want safer communities, a clean planet and a good quality of life. We want this for ourselves, for our neighbours, for our kids and our grandkids. We seek hardship for none and prosperity for all. That is the world we’re working toward, and if we unite around these common goals, I know we can achieve them.” — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
“To those who did not vote for us, know that we will work every single day for you, we will govern for everyone. Regardless of how you cast your ballot, ours is a team that will fight for all Canadians…. To Canadians in Alberta and Saskatchewan — know that you are an essential part of our great country. I have heard your frustration and I want to be there to support you. Let us all work hard to bring our country together.” — Trudeau.
“After the 2015 election, when Justin Trudeau looked unstoppable, all the pundits and experts said it was the beginning of another Trudeau dynasty, that he would have another 8 or 12 years in power. Tonight, Conservatives have put Justin Trudeau on notice, and Mr. Trudeau, when your government falls, Conservatives will be there and we will win.” — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
“I also want to talk about Grassy Narrows — a community that represents the injustice, historically and ongoing, that Indigenous people continue to face. The people of Grassy Narrows are so resilient in the face of neglect and negligence and being ignored and being told they don’t matter, being ridiculed — we brought the national campaign to Grassy Narrows to let them know that they do matter, that they are worthy, and that Indigenous reconciliation is sometimes as simple as basic respect and dignity for the First Peoples of this land.” — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, talking about the remote northern Ontario community of Grassy Narrows First Nation.
Justin Trudeaus victory is a death knell for Canadas fledgling far-right
“The real winner of any election should always be the people, and that means Canadians … they want a government that works for them, not for the rich, the powerful and the well-connected. And if all MPs elected tonight hear that message and act on that message, then the real winners of this election will be the people.” — Singh.
“It’s a big breakthrough to have a seat in Fredericton. It breaks us out of the box of people only thinking we’re a Vancouver Island party.”– Green party Leader Elizabeth May after candidate Jenica Atwin won the party’s first seat outside of B.C.
“I have a thought that’s friendly but, above all, one that recognizes a team. A little team, but a team that executed an impossible campaign — in time resources, in human resources, in money. We have done more than a lot with less than everyone.” — Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet.
“My heart goes out to our 315 candidates across the country. They showed extraordinary courage and passion in defending our principles and policies. They did it despite nasty and shameless attacks from our opponents. They made huge personal sacrifices to offer voters a principled alternative, different from that of all the other parties. But what they did was not in vain. What we managed to accomplish in only one year is spectacular.” — People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier.
Alberta conservatives will hate this. But with Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives beaten, the remaining hope for Trans Mountain construction is Justin Trudeau in (limited) power.
There is a view, advanced here sometimes, that a minority is disastrous because the NDP, Greens and/or Bloc Quebecois will force Trudeau to abandon Trans Mountain.
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But on Monday, the vast majority of Canadians cast a moderate vote on both pipelines and climate policy. Trudeau will ignore that at his peril.
The election result is "a sad day for Western Canada. It probably means more job losses for Alberta," said Robert Cooper, with the institutional sales and trading team at Calgary-based investment firm Acumen Capital Partners.
The NDP lost 15 seats from their 2015 total. The Greens gained one, for a total of three — hardly the grand breakthrough.
While the economy and job creation are thriving in most parts of the country, Alberta in particular continues to struggle. The unemployment rate is high, and more than 20 per cent of the downtown office towers in Calgary are vacant.
The Conservatives won 26 more seats than they had at dissolution. The Liberals lost 20. Even Saskatchewan Liberal icon Ralph Goodale went down.
After the oilpatch celebrated the victory of the United Conservative Party government in Alberta in the spring, many in the sector were eager for a double dose of good fortune in 2019 with a Conservative victory on the federal stage.
The Conservatives are all in for the pipeline. And the Liberals, we must remember, still say they will build Trans Mountain and put all the profits into green energy. They did buy the thing for $4.5 billion.
During the campaign, Trudeau kept stressing that point, even as he neglected to blast the hostile Green and NDP policies.
And the election was also a veritable death knell for the countrys fledging far right party, the Peoples Party of Canada. Its leader, former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier, adopted the tone and substance of Trumpian nativism, decrying multiculturalism and promising to decrease immigration. Formed just over a year ago, the PPC ran a nearly full slate of candidates, yet failed to win a single seat.
Composite photo of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May during the first leaders debate of the campaign, on Sept. 12, 2019. Frank Gunn/Pool via Reuters
The Greens and NDP got 21 per cent of the popular vote. If you throw in the pipeline-hating Bloc Quebecois, the total is just over 30 per cent.
And so, in a general way, the two big parties that favour the pipeline got well over double the support of the much smaller parties that oppose it.
By the numbers, Jagmeet Singh’s NDP now has the perfect number of seats to support the Liberals in a minority.
Yet in defeating Conservative party, the Liberals have instead called into question the direction of conservativism in Canada. The Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, himself a social conservative, was decidedly uncomfortable discussing issues of abortion, same sex marriage and climate change.
The Liberals got 155. Backing from the 25 New Democrats would put them comfortably over the 170-vote majority hurdle.
And Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, whose party won 32 seats, said clearly that the Liberals should stay in power.
Though Scheers plan to scrap Trudeaus carbon tax was popular in Canadas oil-producing regions, it put him at odds with public opinion across the country. As a result, the party failed to gain momentum in either Quebec or the vote-rich confines of suburban Ontario.
The conventional thinking is that Singh or Blanchet would make a deal with Trudeau to support the Liberals, perhaps including a condition to stop the pipeline.
But don’t forget the Conservatives. If the pipeline was at stake in a some kind of cooked-up vote, they might very well back the Liberals. They should, if their interest is the economy rather than just power.
Yet any jitters quickly turned to cheers as the party secured a minority government, thereby rescuing Trudeaus legacy – and probably tilting Canadas political landscape further to the left in the process.
The other factor is exhaustion. No party will want a quick election, least of all the NDP, which will be flat broke. The small parties have far less fundraising capacity to rebound quickly, especially when they lost ground in campaigns.
There is another tactic for running a minority government. In 1979, Progressive Conservative prime minister Joe Clark called it governing like a majority.
It didn’t work for Clark because of clumsy handling. The Liberals defeated his budget because of government failure to round up MPs at a crucial moment. Pierre Trudeau went on to thump the PCs in the 1980 election.
Managed well, though, governing like a majority can work. Former prime minister Stephen Harper did it through two minorities, making no deals but adroitly stickhandling legislation. Then he finally won his majority in 2011.
Today, Justin Trudeau is close enough to a majority — 14 seats short — that he could play this same game with some public legitimacy. The next federal election may be two years off.
Now, what would happen if Trudeau were to bow to the NDP (and the wishes of Singh’s Burnaby riding) and cancel the pipeline, or just let it fade away?
First, he would face a tremendous uproar from the Conservatives, who would do everything in their power to force an election.
Trudeau would damage his party by blowing up his entire energy transition and green growth strategy. He would waste $4.5 billion in public funds. He would look like both a fraud and a patsy for minority opinion.
On Monday night, newly elected Montreal Liberal Stephen Guilbeault, a founder of the Quebec environmental outfit Equiterre, appeared to have made his peace with the Trans Mountain, although not with any other such project.
Trans Mountain doesn’t need any parliamentary approvals. It only becomes an issue if the opposition tires to make cancellation part of a deal to keep the Liberals in power.
In that case the Liberals would not only break all their promises, but defy the great majority of Canadians who voted Monday night. Just try it.