September 22 2021
It’s being heralded as a big waste of time, energy and tax dollars. Following Tuesday’s election, the composition of political parties in the House of Commons is almost exactly as it was when Prime Minister Trudeau called the federal vote in August.
The interim 36 days had little upside for Canadians and the election campaign served mostly to exacerbate divisions among voters.
All elections are confrontational to some extent, that’s just the nature of competition. However, for many observers, the vitriol of this campaign was at an all-time high. And, for what? To return a parliament where the governing Liberals will work mostly with the NDP to get things done? They already had that deal working fine when Mr. Trudeau went to the polls.
As Jean Chretien’s former Director of Communications Peter Donolo said a few weeks ago, it was an open secret that Justin Trudeau called the election because he and his strategists saw a real opportunity to secure a majority of seats.
That did not happen. And, for the second election in a row, the Liberals are on track to get more seats with less votes than the Tories due to the efficiency of their vote.
The Conservatives continued to pile up wins by huge margins in western Canada but, once again, were stymied in vote-rich Ontario. The Greater Toronto Area, where the Tories needed to have a big night, held fast for the Liberals.
Justin Trudeau had a good night because he won. And as the old saying goes, “The worst day in government is better than the best day in opposition.”
Jagmeet Singh, who stood apart from other party leaders by running a very positive campaign, was able to hold his pre-election seat count. Same for the Bloc in Quebec.
Erin O’Toole’s future is not as certain. Were it not for the gains in Atlantic Canada, O’Toole’s Conservatives would have been down at least half a dozen seats from 2019.
Former Tory leader Andrew Scheer was not seen fit to continue after the 2019 election, an election in which he increased the Tory seat count by 20 and secured more votes than Justin Trudeau.
In order to defeat Peter MacKay during the Conservative leadership, O’Toole curried favour with the right wing and social conservative elements of the party. However, once the leadership was won, he tried to tack to the centre.
During the election he flip-flopped on the firearms issue, and was totally tone deaf in not saying he would honour agreements between the Trudeau government and many of the provinces on $10-a-day child care.
In the end, O’Toole had no political coattails. He lost ground in Ontario and the, West while in Atlantic Canada, and Nova Scotia, in particular, gains can be attributed to well-run local campaigns and local issues. We expect his caucus will want an explanation for the disappointing result.
But, in the end, Justin Trudeau has been given another healthy minority – pretty much the same one he had 38 days ago. And now the focus can go back to getting through the latest wave of the pandemic – where it should have been all along.