A “Pearsonian Liberal” minority government, facing some big challenges but still with Justin Trudeau as PM

Oct 22nd, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. OCT 22, 1:30 AM ET. [UPDATED 8:45 AM ET]. Very quickly, before we close the office board room with the big TV, and go home for some sleep :

This time the pollsters came pretty close. As reported at the moment on the CBC News site the Trudeau Liberals are leading or elected in 157 seats with 33% of the cross-Canada popular vote.

Mr. Scheer’s Conservatives have 121 seats with slightly more of the total vote (34%, dramatically concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where they won all the seats with one exception).

Yves-François Blanchet’s Bloc Québécois won 32 seats — all in Quebec but with 8% of the total cross-Canada vote.

Mr. Singh’s New Democrats have 24 seats with 16% of the cross-Canada vote, and Ms. May’s Green Party has 3 seats with 7%. (And to show that this 2019 Canadian federal election really has covered all possible bases, one Independent has been elected — Jody Wilson-Raybould, with 31% of the vote in Vancouver Granville.)

The Liberals and NDP together have 181 seats — in a Canadian House of Commons where a bare majority is 170. Bob Rae and others, however, have suggested that what Prime Minister Trudeau now has at his disposal, given the exact numbers involved, is a so-called “Pearsonian” minority government, similar to the governments Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester Pearson ran after the 1963 and 1965 federal elections.

After the 2019 election, that is to say, the Liberals won’t seek any particular co-operative arrangement with the New Democrats or any other party. They will run their government on a case by case basis, seeking co-operation on particular legislation from whatever opposition parties are most appropriate for the case in question.

On this theory (which may or may not prove correct), none of the BQ, NDP, or Greens can be interested in precipitating a new election all that soon. And in dealing with the need for compromise over conflicts between energy and environmental policies the Liberal minority government may even once in a while appeal to Conservative MP s — especially those from Alberta and Saskatchewan, which have just elected almost nothing but Conservative members (except for one New Democrat in Alberta).

It may or may not be worth noting that the two Lester Pearson Liberal minority governments 1963–1968 are widely regarded by many students of such things as among the most successful governments in Canadian history : inventors (with help from various opposition parties but especially the NDP no doubt) of much of modern Canada today, from the independent Canadian flag to the welfare or service state, official bilingualism, and the diverse democratic society based on a multicultural immigration policy.

There is no doubt that the new second installment of Justin Trudeau Liberal government will face many challenges and will demand some co-operative, inspired, shrewd, and even visionary leadership from the federal prime minister and his government.

On the positive side Justin Trudeau has had a kind of baptism by fire over the past four years, from which he may have learned a few wise lessons. He has done better than his father did in his second election as Liberal leader in 1972. And he has now received both an endorsement from former US President Barack Obama during this 2019 election campaign, and on just winning at least a minority government warm congratulations from current US President Donald Trump! Having received support from President Barack Obama and congratulations from President Donald Trump, PM Justin Trudeau just may be up to the challenges he faces now

Who knows in any event just what great conundrums may or may not lie ahead over the challenging next few years? Our congratulations in any case to all the candidates who ran, coast to coast to coast over a vast geography, and everyone who worked on all the campaigns, and breathed real life into the great treasure of what the Constitution Act, 1982 calls our “free and democratic society,” in the true north, strong and free.

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