Prior to the 2019 Canadian election, the pollsters had predicted either a Conservative minority government or a Liberal one. The polls are closed, the votes have been counted, and Canadians have learned that Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau will continue leading the country. Unlike the US, Canada uses the Westminster system of government, which is based on the British tradition of a parliament.
Trudeau only won a minority government – can his fragile Grits survive the pressure from his opponents once the House of Commons returns?
Canada Votes 2019: The Results
Trudeau secured a victory with 157 seats in parliament, losing 29 areas compared to the 2015 election. While the Conservatives finished the race with a 121-seat total, they expected much bigger gains, especially in the vote-rich province of Quebec. Prime Minister Trudeau addressed his supporters and promised that his government would fight for all Canadians, not just the ones who voted for him and his party. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said his party has “put Trudeau on notice” and that “we are the government in waiting.”
The New Democratic Party, led by rookie federal politician Jagmeet Singh, shed 18 seats for a total of 24. Singh told New Democrats that “Canadians have sent a clear message tonight that they want a government that works for them, not the rich and powerful, not for the well-connected.”
The biggest storyline of the evening was the resurgence of the Bloc Quebecois, headed by Yves-Francois Blanchet. This group advocates for the French-speaking province of Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada. Following disappointing results in the past two elections, the media declared the demise of the 18-year-old separatist party. Rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated, as evident in the 2019 election numbers. The party gained 22 seats and is now the third-largest political party with 32 seats, despite winning just 8% of the popular vote.
In the end, this was the total vote share:
- Liberal: 33.1% (5.91 million).
- Conservative: 34.4% (6.15 million).
- Bloc Quebecois: 7.7% (1.37 million).
- New Democratic Party: 15.9% (2.84 million).
- Green: 6.5% (1.16 million).
- Independent: 0.4% (75,836).
- People’s Party of Canada: 1.6% (292,808).
- Other: 0% (66,534).
A Short Leash
To say that Trudeau’s first four years were interesting would be an understatement. The Prime Minister’s progressive policies have gained him support with some voters and repelled others. His popularity has been declining, in part due to recent scandals in which photos and video footage surfaced showing the prime minister wearing blackface. He has also been accused of corruption for allegedly trying to prevent a criminal investigation into the engineering company SNC-Lavalin.
With these problems in Trudeau’s leadership, the Liberals appeared ready to be knocked out of power and demoted to Official Opposition. However, the electorate had another idea, choosing to give Trudeau another shot as prime minister, but with a shorter leash.