Thoughts on Canada's Election
Last month, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, called a snap election 2 years before it would normally have been held. His goal was to attain a majority for the Liberal Party so that he wouldn’t have to keep making deals with the smaller parties, typically the New Democratic Party (it’s like the left wing of the Democratic Party in the United States) or the Bloc Quebecois, a party with seats only in French-speaking Quebec.
He failed. He had started with 157 seats (he needed at least 170 for a majority of the 338 seats in the House of Commons) and, if the current numbers hold up even after the absentee ballots are counted, will end up with . . . 157 seats.
So when Trudeau said in his victory speech early this morning “You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic,” he’s making it up. It’s not a clear mandate.
Of course, in another sense Trudeau succeeded: he will remain as Prime Minister.
Something else that would interest those of my American friends who think that the party with the most votes should win is that if that were the case in Canada, we would now be talking about incoming Prime Minister Erin O’Toole. As of early this morning, the Conservative Party received 34.1 percent of the vote and the Liberal Party received 31.8 percent. That’s a 2.3 percentage point gap. It’s larger than the 1.2 percentage point gap in the 2019 federal election, when the Conservatives received 34.3 percent and the Liberals received 33.1 percent.
UPDATE: More recent numbers show that the gap in the popular vote in 2021 is almost identical to the gap in 2019. Conservatives got 33.73 percent; Liberals got 32.62 percent. Gap: 1.11 percent.
I’m, by the way, a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.
You might think I would be disappointed that O’Toole lost. I’m not. He caved on a number of issues that the Conservative Party had held near and dear and on which I agreed with them. But also, he was worse on international travel. Here’s a snippet from a news report in April 2021:
Flights from all hot-spot countries must be stopped, he [O’Toole] said — maybe all international flights, “(until) we can rectify and secure our border.”
Also, although I can’t find the link, O’Toole called just last week for restricting travel into Canada.
Trudeau, on the other hand, opened up travel for returning Canadians in early July. Before that, they were required to quarantine for 14 days even if they had been vaccinated and even if they tested negative for Covid. Then he opened it up for Americans on August 9, who hadn’t been allowed in at all. Trudeau, in short, although bad on freedom to travel, was substantially better than O’Toole.