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Instant analysis: Bruised yet victorious, the Liberals hold on

Liberal Party of Canada

Photo Credit: LiberalCA/facebook

Photo Credit: LiberalCA/facebook

Canadians have spoken: the Liberal Party of Canada held on to power last night, securing a minority government of 157 seats after an acrimonious campaign. Polls were extremely tight throughout Election 2019. And the national popular vote aligned accordingly, with the Conservatives leading 34.4% to 33.1%, yet behind the Liberals by 36 seats.

NATIONAL will continue to assess the results against campaign commitments, the impact on key sectors, and the short to medium prognosis for regional economic priorities. Our instant analysis, however, is as follows:

  • For Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party, a win is a win. Overcoming a very difficult 9-month period, and dogged by controversies in the campaign, the Liberals emerged with a stronger-than-expected minority victory, securing 157 seats. Any discussions of a coalition will now be abandoned, and the party has more freedom politically than was envisioned moving into election day. But it didn’t come without costs: losses in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and B.C., for example, prevented the party from securing a second majority. While Prime Minister Trudeau will now be politically hemmed in, he will likely be able to execute the major part of his election platform. The bottom line: the party will need to be selective and careful on how to engage his political opponents on an issue-by-issue basis. Political dance partners on major initiatives are required.

  • The Conservative Party of Canada (121 seats) fell short of expectations by any objective measure. The expected breakthrough in seat-rich Ontario simply didn’t materialize. And while the party might take limited solace in the popular vote “win”, the campaign was unable to generate the momentum required in the closing weeks of the campaign. They return to Ottawa with an impressive seat count, yet a difficult path.

  • The performance of the Bloc Québécois is arguably the key story of Election 2019. The re-emergence of the party, and their 32-seat haul in Quebec, has put the party and its leader Yves-François Blanchet back on the national stage. They were able to keep the Liberals at bay, take seats from the NDP, and eliminate any hope for a Conservative minority victory. As parliament returns, the party will be a major X factor on multiple policy files—and on Liberal intentions for the province of Quebec.

  • NDP leader Jagmeet Singh over-performed by most accounts during Election 2019. Yet it didn’t translate at the polls, with a reduced seat count of 24, and a distant fourth-place finish. Losses in Quebec will sting in particular, with the last ripples of the NDP’s 2011 “orange wave” all but disappearing. While a minority parliament offers opportunities to partner with—or outright oppose—the Liberal Party on major issues, the path back to full national relevance remains cloudy at best.

  • The Green Party and its faithful simply cannot be pleased with its final seat count (3) in Election 2019. A new political “beach head” victory in New Brunswick notwithstanding, Canadians who put climate change at the top of their priority list may have chosen another political option in the ballot box to carry the green mantle in parliament. The Green campaign never caught fire during Election 2019, and questions will remain around whether Elizabeth May stays on to fight another campaign. We will be watching.

  • As for Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada, their effort to chip away at the Conservative Party in Quebec and elsewhere ultimately failed, with Bernier losing his own seat in the Beauce region of Quebec. With his loss, the party itself faces a bleak—if not completely irrelevant—future.

NATIONAL will be providing further analysis in the coming days, with assessments on the return of parliament, new cabinet members, and the inevitable changes at the political staff level on the immediate horizon.

Contact our Public Affairs and Government Relations experts

——— Tiéoulé Traoré is a former Director, Government Relations at NATIONAL Public Relations


Written by Ali Salam | Bob Richardson | Yash Dogra | Sajni Khera

A NATIONAL Exclusive Talk on Election 2019