CBC projects Liberal minority government
CBC projects Liberal minority government

Cana­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau may not end up with the major­i­ty he was hop­ing to regain when he orches­trat­ed the dis­so­lu­tion of the House of Com­mons a few weeks ago, but it appears that he and his par­ty will at least emerge from today’s snap elec­tion no worse off than they were before.

As ini­tial results rolled in, the CBC pro­ject­ed a Lib­er­al Gov­ern­ment, con­clud­ing that the avail­able data indi­cates that Trudeau will remain Prime Min­is­ter and at least secure a plu­ral­i­ty when all of the bal­lots are counted.

As of press time, the Lib­er­als led in one hun­dred and fifty-four rid­ings (that’s what Cana­di­ans call a dis­trict), while the Con­ser­v­a­tives, under the lead­er­ship of Erin O’Toole, led in one hun­dred and twen­ty-two ridings.

The Bloc Québé­cois led in twen­ty-nine rid­ings, the left-wing New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty led in twen­ty-nine rid­ings, and the Green Par­ty led in two.

The num­bers are fluc­tu­at­ing as new tab­u­la­tions con­tin­ue to be released.

As of dis­so­lu­tion, the par­ties’ num­bers were as follows:

  • Lib­er­als: 155
  • Con­ser­v­a­tives: 119
  • Bloc Québé­cois: 32
  • NDP: 24
  • Green: 2

If you’re not famil­iar with Cana­di­an pol­i­tics, here’s a quick primer on the parties.

  • The Lib­er­als are the cur­rent gov­ern­ing par­ty in Cana­da, and have formed gov­ern­ment since 2015. Led by Justin Trudeau, the par­ty leans more to the left, but is not the most pro­gres­sive major par­ty in the coun­try. The par­ty is social­ly lib­er­al, but more right wing on envi­ron­men­tal issues.
  • The Con­ser­v­a­tives are the main right wing par­ty in Cana­da, but are not as extreme or mil­i­tant as the Repub­li­can Par­ty in the Unit­ed States. They are cur­rent­ly led by Erin O’Toole, who tried to woo pro­gres­sive Cana­di­an vot­ers away from the Lib­er­als with some rea­son­able plat­form planks.
  • The New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is the biggest true left wing par­ty in Cana­da. It is cur­rent­ly led by Jag­meet Singh and espous­es pro­gres­sive posi­tions across all the major issues. The NDP has nev­er per­formed well enough in a fed­er­al elec­tion to form a gov­ern­ment in Her Majesty’s name, but sib­ling par­ty orga­ni­za­tions at the provin­cial lev­el have won majori­ties before, most recent­ly last year in British Colum­bia under John Hor­gan.
  • The Green Par­ty is a staunch­ly pro-envi­ron­ment par­ty that, as its name sug­gests, is focused prin­ci­pal­ly on com­bat­ing pol­lu­tion, tak­ing cli­mate action, and imple­ment­ing reforms to reduce cor­rup­tion. The par­ty has nev­er had more than three seats in the House of Com­mons. It won its first seat in ten years ago when par­ty leader Eliz­a­beth May was elect­ed in Saanich — Gulf Islands, a Van­cou­ver Island riding.
  • The Bloc Québé­cois is a Que­bec-only par­ty led by Yves-François Blanchet  that favors the polit­i­cal seces­sion of Que­bec from Cana­da. It has been char­ac­ter­ized as social­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic and sep­a­ratist. The Bloc was formed thir­ty years ago and has seen its num­bers shrink and grow dra­mat­i­cal­ly over the course of many fed­er­al elections.

In the pop­u­lar vote, the Con­ser­v­a­tives cur­rent­ly have 33.9%, the Lib­er­als have 33.1%, the NDP has 16.6%, the Bloc has 8.1%, the Peo­ple’s Par­ty has 5.1%, and the Greens have 2.1%. (The Peo­ple’s Par­ty is a far right wing par­ty that cur­rent­ly has no seats in Par­lia­ment and isn’t slat­ed to win any tonight.)

Party percentages in the 2021 federal election
Onscreen CBC graph­ics show­ing the par­ties’ elec­toral per­for­mance part­way through the bal­lot count­ing (CBC)

“It looks like nobody want­ed an elec­tion and nobody got what they want­ed,” remarked Chan­tal Hébert, speak­ing to the CBC. “Justin Trudeau does­n’t get his major­i­ty, the Con­ser­v­a­tives do not get the gov­ern­ment… the NDP, I think, would have liked to be in con­trol of the bal­ance of pow­er, that’s not hap­pen­ing, and the Bloc Québé­cois did not get the bump they hoped for in the polls.”

As in the last few elec­tions, the main bat­tle­grounds are urban Ontario (the Greater Toron­to Area, also known as the GTA), Que­bec, and met­ro­pol­i­tan Van­cou­ver, in British Colum­bia. The Lib­er­als are doing just fine in GTA and rea­son­ably well in Que­bec, which accounts for their plu­ral­i­ty show­ing so far tonight.

But they have not repeat­ed their strong show­ing from 2015, when they roared back to pow­er and knocked out Stephen Harper’s government.

Rosy pre-writ polling did sug­gest that the Lib­er­als might be able to secure a major­i­ty in a snap elec­tion, but once Trudeau actu­al­ly pulled the trig­ger, O’Toole’s Con­ser­v­a­tives proved to be more com­pet­i­tive than the Lib­er­als had expected.

In many pub­lic opin­ion sur­veys tak­en in recent weeks, the Con­ser­v­a­tives have either been tied with the Lib­er­als, or not far behind.

The final pre­elec­tion polling showed the Lib­er­als pulling away a bit, leav­ing them with breath­ing room to avert elec­toral dis­as­ter, but short of their objective.

The big win­ner in this elec­tion could be the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (NDP).

Two years ago, the NDP won just twen­ty-four seats in the first elec­tion under new leader Jag­meet Singh. At present, the NDP is ahead in twen­ty-nine rid­ings, which would rep­re­sent an increase of near­ly half a dozen seats.

The Bloc, mean­while, looks like it could end up with a few few­er seats than it won in the 2019 fed­er­al elec­tion. The Bloc had aspi­ra­tions of win­ning more than forty seats, so this result will like­ly come as a dis­ap­point­ment to the Bloc and its sup­port­ers, but they are at least avoid­ing being wiped out as they were in 2011.

If you’d like to fol­low along as the lead­ers make their elec­tion night appear­ances and results become more firm, there are sev­er­al livestreams you can choose from:

Trudeau is report­ed­ly going to speak at 9:30 PM Pacif­ic Time.

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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