Siena College's Student Newspaper


The Canadian Election

October 21 was either a day of rejoicing or one of heartbreak for Canadians. No, it wasn’t Canadian Valentine’s Day, it was the 2019 Federal Election to the Canadian Parliament. Canada doesn’t elect their Prime Minister directly. They elect a member to Parliament from their local region, and the party with the most seats at the end of the night, forms a government, with their party leader becoming Prime Minister. The best comparison to American Politics would be to the House of Representatives here in the U.S and used that as a basis for who would be President. Today, that would mean Nancy Pelosi would be President, as she is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House.

After forty days of hard-fought campaigning and promise after promise, Members of Parliament (otherwise known as MP’s) waited anxiously to see if themselves and their party would prevail. In Canada, it is mostly a four to five-party system depending on the year. The incumbent Liberal majority government, led by Justin Trudeau, was seeking a second term in office, hoping to get the required 170 seats to form a majority government. The Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer were pinning their hopes on taking down Trudeau and capitulating themselves to victory. The smaller left-wing New Democrat Party (known in Canada as the NDP) was hoping to prevent a massive loss of seats and maintain their relevance. This election, the NDP was led by Jagmeet Singh, the first Indian Canadian to lead a federal political party. Fighting to overtake the NDP and become the main third-party option across Canada were the Greens. Led by American born Elizabeth May, the Greens enjoyed an early surge of support in the campaign due to their environmentalist policies. This election, according to surveys done by Nanos and CTV, climate change was considered the number two issue for Canadians when considering who they would vote for. Lastly, the Bloc Québécois was looking for a resurgence. The Bloc, as they are commonly known, is a political party that only runs candidates in the Canadian province of Quebec. Their main issue is advocating for more powers to be given to Quebec, so that they may govern themselves. Some members of the Bloc even advocate for Quebec to be its own nation, separate from Canada.

Leading up to the election, polls showed a tight race between the Conservatives and Liberals, with neither party reaching the required 170 seats to form a majority government. Both parties eventually dropped slightly in the polls, as the NDP regained some of its momentum and the Bloc Québécois saw a surge of support in Quebec. The Liberals were expected to lose their position as a majority government partly due to two massive scandals involving their party leader and Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Earlier this year, Trudeau was found in violation of ethics rules for trying to pressure his Attorney General into not seeking charges against a Quebec company. When his Attorney General refused, Trudeau fired her and expelled her from the Liberal Party. Prime Minister Trudeau stated that he was trying to protect Canadian jobs because the company would have been forced to close if prosecuted. His opponents took this opportunity to label him as corrupt and unethical. The problems for the Liberal did not end there. Later in the campaign, Time Magazine published photos of Justin Trudeau from 2001 and earlier, in which Trudeau was wearing blackface as part of a costume. With all of this, pundits found it hard to see how Trudeau could win the election.

The CBC, Canada’s public broadcasting station, broadcasted the results of the Federal election live and Canadians watched anxiously as the results poured in. By the end of the night, Elections Canada had reported all ballots counted. The Liberals lost their majority but remained the largest party with 157 seats, an overall loss of 29 seats from the previous election. The Conservatives gained, but not as much as expected. They ended the night with 121 seats, an overall gain of 23. One of the biggest shocks of the night was the incredible results for the Bloc Québécois. They ended with 32 seats overall, a gain of 22. The NDP saw their seat share cut almost in half, from 42 to 24, a net loss of 18 seats. The Greens failed to materialize on their momentum, gaining only one seat, giving them 3 seats overall in Parliament. Justin Trudeau may have lost his majority, however, will remain Prime Minister because his party won the most seats. This situation is not ideal for Mr. Trudeau and if his government fails to pass the budget within the next year, Canadians may be heading back to polls sooner than they think.