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Liberals projected to return to government as initial Canadian snap election results roll in

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.)

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.

Andrew Villeneuve

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