Justin Trudeau on the campaign trail
Toronto Centre Campaign Office Opening with Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau appears poised to remain Prime Min­is­ter of Cana­da for sev­er­al more years, accord­ing to a pro­jec­tion released this evening by the CBC, the Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion. The net­work has assessed, based on ear­ly elec­tion results, that Trudeau will be asked by the Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al of Cana­da to form the coun­try’s next gov­ern­ment based on ear­ly elec­tion results.

How­ev­er, Trudeau’s Lib­er­als will not be in a posi­tion to form a gov­ern­ment by them­selves, as the net­work is also pro­ject­ing that they will fail to win an out­right major­i­ty once all the bal­lots have been counted.

As of 7:25 PM Pacif­ic Time, the Lib­er­als were lead­ing in one hun­dred and forty-nine rid­ings (which is what Cana­di­ans call dis­tricts) and the Con­ser­v­a­tives, Her Majesty’s Loy­al Oppo­si­tion, were lead­ing in one hun­dred and one. The Bloc Que­be­cois, a region­al par­ty, led in thir­ty-two rid­ings, the NDP led in twen­ty, and the Green Par­ty has picked up a rid­ing in the mar­itime provinces.

Some back­ground from The Globe and Mail:

At dis­so­lu­tion, the Lib­er­als held one hun­dred and sev­en­ty-sev­en seats, the Con­ser­v­a­tives held nine­ty-five seats, the NDP held thir­ty-nine seats, the Bloc Québé­cois held ten seats, the Greens had two seats, the People’s Par­ty had one seat, the CCF had one seat, and there were eight inde­pen­dents. There were five more vacant seats in the 338-seat House of Commons.

A par­ty needs at least one hun­dred and sev­en­ty seats to form a major­i­ty gov­ern­ment. If no par­ty wins more than half the seats, then by par­lia­men­tary con­ven­tion the incum­bent prime min­is­ter can ask the Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al for the first crack at gov­ern­ing, if they wish. A par­ty with less than half of the seats in the House would require co-oper­a­tion from oth­er par­ties in order to pass legislation.

The Con­ser­v­a­tives are Canada’s main right wing par­ty, while the NDP is Canada’s biggest true left wing par­ty. The Lib­er­als are a cen­ter (or cen­tre) left par­ty, occu­py­ing an ide­o­log­i­cal space in between the Con­ser­v­a­tives and the NDP.

The envi­ron­men­tal­ly-focused Greens are the most left wing par­ty that cur­rent­ly has rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the House of Com­mons in Ottawa. The Peo­ple’s Par­ty is a small right wing par­ty formed by an MP who broke away from the Conservatives.

If the CBC’s pro­jec­tions hold, Trudeau will not be able to form a gov­ern­ment with­out the assis­tance of anoth­er polit­i­cal par­ty. He could either go the coali­tion route, in which his Lib­er­als would share pow­er, or he could form a minor­i­ty gov­ern­ment sup­port­ed by a con­fi­dence and sup­ply agreement.

In either sce­nario, the NDP (the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty) would seem to be Trudeau’s best poten­tial part­ner and his first port of call.

Cur­rent­ly led by Jag­meet Singh, the NDP is the par­ty that is arguably the most com­pat­i­ble with the Lib­er­als in an ide­o­log­i­cal sense. The Bloc is a Que­bec-only par­ty, the Greens will not end up with enough seats to play king­mak­er, and the Lib­er­als and the Con­ser­v­a­tives do not like each other.

It looks like the sto­ry of the night is that both major polit­i­cal par­ties are under­per­form­ing rel­a­tive to oth­er recent elec­tions. The Lib­er­als appear to have lost the major­i­ty they won four years ago, while the Con­ser­v­a­tives have lost their oppor­tu­ni­ty to form a gov­ern­ment. With Justin Trudeau in a weak­ened posi­tion, the Con­ser­v­a­tives, under Andrew Scheer, hoped to return to pow­er. Instead, they will like­ly remain Her Majesty’s Loy­al Oppo­si­tion for the next four years.

“Nev­er before have both major par­ties tak­en such a small share of the vote,” not­ed The Van­cou­ver Sun’s Andrew Coyne. “Nev­er before, in my mem­o­ry, have both declined steadi­ly and togeth­er through­out a cam­paign. Their plat­forms land­ed with the same dull thuds, their lead­ers failed to impress in rough­ly equal measure.”

The NDP’s sit­u­a­tion is more complicated.

While they may end up with few­er seats than they pre­vi­ous­ly had (with the Bloc pick­ing up a num­ber of seats in Que­bec at their expense), the Lib­er­als will prob­a­bly be turn­ing to them for sup­port, which will make the NDP’s fed­er­al del­e­ga­tion poten­tial­ly more rel­e­vant and influ­en­tial than it pre­vi­ous­ly was.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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