Back to the real Canadian future with Justin Trudeau .. maybe?

Oct 20th, 2015 | By | Category: Ottawa Scene

Justin Trudeau paddles down the Bow River in Calgary, September 17, 2015. Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press, National Post.

As we write in the early morning on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have won 184 seats in the Canadian House of Commons with 39.5% of the cross-Canada popular vote. (A mere 170 seats is required for a bare majority government : Mr. Trudeau is the new prime minister elect of Canada.)

The former governing Harper Conservatives have 99 seats with 31.9% of the vote. Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats have 44 seats with 19.7% of the vote. The Bloc Quebecois has 10 seats with 4.7% (though Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe has lost his seat to the NDP!). The Green Party took 3.4% of the cross-Canada vote, and managed to keep leader Elizabeth May’s one Saanich-Gulf Islands seat in beautiful BC.

In fact, the percentages of the popular vote taken by each party are rather close to the final numbers predicted by the last Nanos poll before the election – Liberals 39.1% (actual 39.5%), Conservatives 30.5% (31.9%), New Democrats 19.7% (19.7%), Bloc Quebecois 5.5% (4.7%), and Green Party 4.6% (3.4%).

What is (somewhat?) surprising is the political arithmetic that has given the Liberals a majority government of as much as 184 seats, with 39% of the cross-Canada popular vote. It looks a little like an inside-out version of this past spring’s UK election. After months of speculation about minority government permutations and combinations, the Liberals in this case (not the Conservatives as in the UK) have won a majority government (and in this case a rather solid one too!).

We don’t have much more to say at this juncture. Excerpt for two quick early thoughts.

Justin Trudeau paddles down the Bow River in Calgary, September 17, 2015. Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press, National Post.

The first is that the rather solid new Liberal majority government is bound to be over-interpreted as a collective rush by the Canadian people in some new direction. As in so many other elections of the more recent past, it is the peculiar and often unpredictable political arithmetic of our current electoral system, with 3+2 political parties, that has given Justin Trudeau and his legions of hard-working supporters their surprising majority of seats in parliament – and not any broader decision by an actual majority of the Canadian people.

The second is that, even so, Justin Trudeau will now be rightly enough credited with a quite astounding display of democratic political skill, and so forth. And his extended Wilfrid Laurier “Sunny Ways” public remarks once the Liberal victory was clear raised a few hopeful prospects. (Especially his reaching out to “active citizens,” Thomas Mulcair, and even Stephen Harper!)  Meanwhile, see “Canada Election 2015: Liberals To Form Next Majority Government” and “Harper To Resign As Conservative Leader After Election Defeat.” (And over the next few weeks there will no doubt be a lot more on this site, on the new Canadian political order that is about to wash all over the country, from coast to coast to coast … Stay tuned.)

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