157 seats — 33.1%
121 seats — 33.4%
32 seats — 7.7%
24 seats — 15.9%
3 seats — 6.1%
1 seats — N/A
The Top Line
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party won the most seats in Election 2019 and will now form a minority government.
However, the Liberals must now navigate a strategically complex political situation in order to govern, and that task will be made more difficult by regional divisions that were exposed in the vote. The Liberals failed to win any seats in either Alberta or Saskatchewan (losing its long-serving Cabinet Minister Ralph Goodale in the process) and the bulk of their seats are in urban and suburban Canada.
With a strong plurality of seats, however, the Liberals do have significant leverage in the necessary negotiations to gain the confidence of the House of Commons. They also have the luxury of drawing on the NDP or Bloc for support, meaning they are not beholden to one partner. Expect the Liberals to quickly reach out to the NDP to begin discussions on what key initiatives the NDP would like to see in exchange for its support in the House.
The two parties are likely to have significant discussions on the issues of climate change, pharmacare, dental care, and housing. Other issues where there could be convergence between the two parties are on raising the minimum wage in federally-regulated sectors, taxes on the wealthy and greater regulation in federally-regulated sectors such as telecommunications and banking. With that in mind, expect that the Liberals will emphasize their own commitments to climate change, pharmacare, the cost of telecommunication services, and affordable housing in its entreaties to the NDP.
Given the minority situation, significant parts of the Liberal agenda will likely be shelved or put on hold. We will need to pay particular attention to the further development and eventual sale of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which the Government purchased from Kinder Morgan last year. Significant natural resource projects of any kind, even within the confines of the tougher environmental assessment legislation passed in the last Parliament, will likely now face tough opposition from the NDP, Bloc, and Green Party. The lack of MPs in government from resource-oriented provinces will further complicate that issue, and it will be incumbent on the Prime Minister to bridge that divide and ensure that Alberta and Saskatchewan’s interests are heard in his Cabinet and caucus.
A Deeper Dive
Last night’s results held positives and negatives for the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and the Green Party; while only the resurgent Bloc Quebecois can claim complete satisfaction with the results.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had a strong campaign, but he ultimately oversaw the loss of a significant amount of his caucus, with his Quebec representation reduced to just one seat, only eight years after the Orange Wave of 2011. His caucus of 24 MPs, drawn from traditional NDP strongholds, will likely hold the balance of power in the coming minority Parliament.
Although the Conservative Party won a larger share of the popular vote than the Liberals, it was unable to expand support enough beyond traditional bastions to win government. The Party had a net loss of one seat in Quebec and a net gain of only three in Ontario.
The Conservatives will push ethics, fiscal responsibility and natural resource development issues to the forefront in both the House of Commons and House Committees as they seek to keep the Liberal government and its minority partners on the defensive. While a disappointing result for the Conservatives, expect them to enter Parliament aggressive in their approach to holding the Government to account. As happens after any loss, there may be some internal questions about Andrew Scheer’s leadership, so he will need to move quickly to solidify caucus and Party support with a goal at pushing for an election at every opportunity – an election that the Conservatives will fully expect to win.
For the Green Party, winning a seat in Atlantic Canada was a notable breakthrough early in Election night, but that was tempered by some unexpectedly poor showings in ridings on Vancouver Island that the Greens were hoping to win, such as Victoria. In her 13 years as leader, Elizabeth May has brought the Green Party from the fringes of national discourse to a legitimate national party with competitive candidates across Canada. The question now will be does she need to pass the torch in order for the Party to attain the next level.
The renewed presence of the Bloc Quebecois in this Parliament also bears mentioning, given that the Party’s focus will entirely be on pushing Quebec issues – including accommodation of multicultural communities and provincial rights – to the forefront in both the House of Commons and House Committees.
Impact on Advocacy
A minority government will require renewed focus on relationship-building with both the Government and Opposition in order to advance advocacy efforts. That is especially true given that minorities rarely last the full four years – meaning the Government and Opposition Parties will not be focused on long-term priorities. Also, with the resurgent Bloc, consideration of how an issue may impact Quebec will need to be considered in all Federal advocacy efforts in this Parliament.
Additional attention must now be paid to House of Commons Committees, as they will significantly impact legislation and policy direction for the Government, given the Opposition majority on all Committees. Private Members’ Bills will also take on additional prominence in a minority Parliament.
The Senate, which has a majority of Senators who are not aligned with any caucus, will also require significant attention in order to advance issues. Expect the Senate to continue to flex its muscle as more than just a house of sober second thought. We expect non-Conservative Senators from Alberta and Saskatchewan (like Senators Grant Mitchell, Paula Simons, and Marty Klein) to take on a renewed importance as conduits to Ministers.
- The immediate test for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party will be to form a new Cabinet that can govern in this minority situation. The appointment of a new Cabinet may occur as early as next week.
- While it is unclear what changes will be made to the Cabinet, those changes will need to consider the departure of the two Ministers who were defeated last night – Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale from Saskatchewan and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi from Alberta.
- Newly-elected MPs who may be expected to be appointed to Cabinet include Adam van Koeverden, who defeated former Harper Minister Lisa Raitt, former Ontario Health Minister Helena Jaczek, and noted Quebec environmentalist Steven Guilbeault.
- The Government will most likely return to the House before Christmas with a Speech from the Throne outlining priorities for the coming mandate. The Government may also take an opportunity to present a Fall Economic Statement to set the context for Budget 2020.
- Committee memberships and priorities may not become clear until after the House returns in January.
Battleground (Key Winners and Losers)
- Several Conservative, Harper-era MPs were able to win back their seats after a hiatus out of politics, including former Minister Rob Moore and John Williamson in New Brunswick.
- Independent and former Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould retained her seat in Vancouver Granville, through her former Liberal ally Jane Philpott was unable to win in Markham-Stoufville.
- The Green Party elected its first MP from outside of British Columbia, with the victory of Jenica Atwin in Fredericton.
- Former Ontario Liberal Minister Sandra Pupatello was unable to defeat the NDP’s Brian Masse in Windsor West.
The Bottom Line
Because of the precarious nature of minority governments, it will be important to move quickly in advocacy efforts with elected officials and staff. The fragility of the minority government will need to be navigated carefully, and it will be extremely difficult for any party to survive until the next mandated election in October 2023. As such, we expect a shortened mandate. As noted above, the Opposition’s increased prominence in a minority government means that building links with all of the Parties will be key to generating successful outcomes.