'Historic opportunity': Opposition leaders take stock after Liberal minority win
TORONTO – As all parties assess the outcome of Monday night’s 43rd federal election, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is framing the new Liberal-led minority Parliament as a “historic opportunity” to advance progressive policies, while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is already angling for a rematch.
First up to address the election results in the light of the day after, Singh said he is optimistic about his 24-person caucus’ ability to still deliver on some of its election commitments, despite dropping from third to fourth party standing in the House of Commons.
“The results of this election, they showed that Canadians now have a historic opportunity to win, and the way they win is this minority government gives us the chance to be able to fight for the things that we’ve laid out all along this campaign,” Singh told reporters from Burnaby, B.C. He said that in the coming days he will meet with his team to discuss the New Democrats’ priorities in the 43rd Parliament. Throughout the campaign Singh indicated his openness to working with the Liberals in a minority scenario.
In his victory remarks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canadians have sent his party back to Ottawa with a “clear” mandate, though there will be a new requirement to collaborate with the smaller parties if he wants to advance his campaign commitments.
The Liberals are 13 seats short of the 170 seats needed for a majority, though they could be down another following the election of the next Speaker of the House of Commons. This means that while it won’t be as big of a challenge as it would have been if the Liberals’ seat count was smaller, no vote is a guarantee and Trudeau will have to look to forge either formal or informal alliances in order to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons.
After thanking constituents at a Metro station in his Montreal riding of Papineau Tuesday morning, Trudeau headed back to Ottawa but is not planning to take reporters’ questions on what comes next until Wednesday at 1 p.m. EDT. After his decisive 2015 majority victory Trudeau also started the following day greeting commuters, but then he made his way right into the National Press Theatre on Parliament Hill to speak about his plans.
As for the timeline, expect a cabinet reconfiguring given two ministers lost their seats and the Liberals have welcomed some high-profile incumbents. After the last election the Liberals unveiled their first gender-balanced front bench a few weeks after the election, delivered the throne speech in December, and began the House sitting in January.
Bloc boasts leverage, Tories talk 'next time'
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet spoke this afternoon about his plans for the next Parliament, after tripling his party’s seat count and destabilizing the gains other parties were looking to make in Quebec in the process, in part because of a resurgence of Quebec nationalism.
Blanchet, who is coming to Ottawa as one of 32 Bloc MPs, has said that he isn't interested in teaming up with anyone in a coalition, but would decide on a case-by-case basis whether to support various initiatives proposed by a minority government. Tuesday he said he expects his party to have “quite a good leverage” going forward. Asked why he thought that’ll be the case, he told reporters to “watch closely how the things will develop in the coming months.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer—who looked to make history and defeat the Liberals after just one majority mandate—spoke about how Monday night’s outcome was just the “first step” at his midday press conference in Regina.
“We will continue to fight and prepare for when this government falls, we’ll be ready to replace it,” Scheer said, adding that he plans to stay on as leader for that fight as a government-in-waiting opposition party. “We will keep holding Justin Trudeau to account and we will keep fighting for our values and principles, for our freedoms and our prosperity, and we will be ready when the time comes… to take the fight back to Justin Trudeau and give Canadians the government they deserve.”
The Conservatives won the popular vote, with Elections Canada’s preliminary results showing the Conservatives with 34.4 per cent of the votes, to the Liberals’ 33.1 per cent. The last time an election resulted in the party with the most votes not winning the most seats was 40 years ago, when Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals received nearly 500,000 more votes than Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservatives, but the PCs picked up 136 seats to the Liberals’ 114.
“We’re going to re-double our efforts for next time,” Scheer said.
The Conservatives are sending a team of 121 MPs to Ottawa, and while there were a few policy similarities between what the Liberals and Conservatives promised voters in this campaign, the nasty partisanship exchanged between the two on the trail means there will likely be little cooperation between the two parties in the months ahead.
With Scheer’s experience navigating the procedural rulebook and years of pushing various parliamentary levers to keep the government’s feet to the fire, his caucus is likely keen to get back to Ottawa under more stable footing to keep that up.
The Conservative leader told reporters today that in his concession call to Trudeau last night he urged the prime minister to be mindful of the regional divide that the results have laid bare, from Quebec sovereignty to western alienation.
The 40-day campaign ended with the Liberals completely shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but holding on to key parts of Ontario, while the Bloc Quebecois split the vote in Quebec and the Conservatives, NDP, and Greens each gained or held ground in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia. The New Democrats won Nunavut.
The Green Party went from two to three seats, but the gain was far from what Leader Elizabeth May had hoped. In an interview on CTV’s Power Play May said her caucus will be the only one pushing for serious action on climate change.
“I’m very committed to success for all three of us in Parliament,” May said.
As for her political future May—who has openly talked in the past about being keen to pass on the leadership torch—said that it’s “very unlikely” that come 2023 she would be at the helm of the party.
“But I’m not in any hurry to make a precipitous decision in the few days after the election,” she said.
The People’s Party was wiped off the electoral map, while Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould was re-elected.
With files from CTV News’ Ryan Flanagan