Trudeau vows to 'fight for all Canadians' as Liberals win minority government
TORONTO – After a hard-fought and divisive campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has managed to hold on to power, winning a minority government.
While the Liberals are the victors of the 2019 federal election, the party is coming out of the campaign with fewer seats than they had going in, and a new requirement to collaborate with the opposition parties.
“I have heard you my friends, you are sending our Liberal team back to work, back to Ottawa with a clear mandate,” said Trudeau to a room of supporters in Montreal after failing to secure the 170 seats needed to hold the majority of the 338 seats in the House of Commons.
After four years of mixed results delivering on his promises and a series of controversies that threw into question the commitment of the leader with the rolled up sleeves to doing politics differently, Trudeau is heading back to Ottawa to attempt to govern for another four years -- though minority parliaments historically don’t last that long.
Now it’s up to the Liberals to determine whether they’ll look to forge a formal alliance or pick up support on a vote-by-vote basis.
This, coupled with the regional divide that the early results appear to indicate, is set to add another layer to the 43rd Parliament, from Quebec sovereignty to western alienation already emerging as storylines to watch in the coming weeks and months. The Liberals were shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but held on to key parts of Ontario, while the Bloc Quebecois split the vote in Quebec and the Conservatives, NDP, and Greens each gaining or holding ground in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia. The New Democrats also won Nunavut.
In his victory speech, Trudeau thanked those who voted for his party and also delivered clear messages to Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Alberta voters, speaking to the divisions within the country.
“Know that we will work every single day for you. We will govern for everyone. Regardless of how you cast your ballot, ours is a team that will fight for all Canadians,” Trudeau said. “I have heard your frustration and I want to be there to support you. Let us all work hard to bring our country together."
The Liberals ended the election winning 157 seats after heading into the campaign with 177. The Conservatives won 121 after heading into the campaign with 95. The Bloc Quebecois bumped the NDP out of third-party status, winning 32 seats, up from the 10 they held going in to the election. The NDP won 24 seats, down from the 39 they held at the end of the last Parliament. The Green party went from two to three seats, the People’s Party was wiped off the electoral map, while Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould was re-elected.
In 2015, the Liberals won 184 seats, the Conservatives secured 99, the NDP 44, the Bloc Quebecois 10, and the Green Party had one seat.
'A very challenging Parliament'
That means conversation will soon shift to how the remaining seats fall and where the Liberals will have to look to find support in a hung Parliament in order to advance their agenda, which includes billions in new spending on students, families, and the environment; imposing a ban all military-style assault rifles; committing Canada to net zero emissions by 2050; and imposing higher taxes on the wealthiest and new regulations for multinational tech giants.
It was a fast-paced and tight 40-day campaign that saw leadership, affordability issues and the environment become central themes against a backdrop of divisive politicking.
When he called the election on Sept. 11, Trudeau immediately framed the campaign as a chance for forward progress, while his opponents quickly got to work positioning themselves as ready alternatives in what they hoped would be a referendum on his tenure as prime minister. In some ridings it may have been, with three veteran Liberal incumbents in Alberta being defeated, and Liberal MP Ralph Goodale losing the only seat the party held in Saskatchewan.
Goodale congratulated Trudeau on forming the next government, calling it “a very important national victory,” but recognized that it will “of course, be a very different Parliament, a very challenging Parliament.”
Opposition dynamics still being determined
This outcome is not what Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and his party had campaigned for, framing itself as the best choice for Canadians who want to “get ahead,” and who think Trudeau has taken the country in the wrong direction or has not lived up to the leader he billed himself as. While Scheer is heading back to Ottawa as the MP for Regina-Qu'Appelle, Sask., the electoral defeat may prompt calls from within the party for another leadership race.
Deputy Conservative Leader Lisa Raitt has lost her seat, remarking to supporters in her Ontario riding that it was not the result her party wanted, but predicted that the Liberals won’t manage to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons for a four-year mandate.
With days to go in the campaign, Scheer told CTV News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme that the party who wins the most seats should have the right to govern. In his concession speech from Conservative election night headquarters in Regina, Sask., Scheer said he spoke to Trudeau and congratulated him for achieving that metric.
Scheer highlighted that the Liberals lost support in all regions, while the Conservatives are sending a bigger team to Ottawa, who will be ready to “serve to help every Canadian get ahead,” should Trudeau’s minority fail.
“More Canadians wanted us to win this election than any other party,” Scheer said. "Tonight, Conservatives have put Justin Trudeau on notice.”
Throughout the campaign, the polls had placed Trudeau and Scheer neck-and-neck. Midway through the race, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet’s campaigns picked up traction. They each secured their seats and now all eyes will be on their caucuses’ ability to have input on the Liberals’ agenda.
In his concession speech, Singh congratulated Trudeau, saying “Canadians have chosen.” He also drew his lines in the sand for potential support going forward, including tackling affordability and a universal pharmacare plan.
"We're going to make sure that the energy that we built over this campaign, the excitement that we built, and the focus that we put on people, on people's struggles, continues so that we can play a constructive and positive role in the new Parliament that Canadians have chosen,” Singh said.
Singh, who was watching the results roll in from his election night party in Vancouver, started the campaign all but counted out. While his prospects improved after some strong debate performances, and recognition for his reaction when faced with racism on the trail, his party lost nearly half its seats in the end.
Blanchet surprised many in this campaign, emerging as a real contender in Quebec, destabilizing the gains the other parties were looking to make there. Blanchet watched the results from Montreal, and reacted with triumph at running a campaign that more than tripled the number of Bloc Quebecois MPs in the House of Commons.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May picked up a new seat for her party in New Brunswick, but the gain was far from what she had hoped, after banking on Canadians prioritizing climate change, and attracting those disaffected Liberal and NDP voters who want a new approach.
In her address from Victoria, B.C., May said she was confident that the Greens will be able to have a “really significant” role in the new Parliament.
Meanwhile, People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier lost his seat. He began the campaign with a vow to run candidates for his fledgling party in every riding across the country, but there was not a single elected member of his party by the end of the night.
Some voting issues, no widespread trouble
Midway through the night, Elections Canada had acknowledged a series of what appeared to be isolated instances of delays and other confusion at polling places though results in one riding, Thunder Bay-Rainy River, were delayed an hour because of a miscommunication over when polls close given the riding straddles two time zones.
As well, Elections Canada received complaints about electors receiving robocalls, with misleading or wrong information about when to cast their ballots. These instances were flagged to the elections agency as happening in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec, though it was not something that appeared to be widespread.
It’s too soon to measure voter turnout on election day, but a record 4.7 million Canadians are estimated to have cast their ballots at advance polls, 111,300 electors cast ballots at early on-campus pilling places, and another 21,842 ballots from Canadians living abroad had been received by Elections Canada as of Friday.
Initial numbers from Elections Canada indicate that day-of voter turnout was a little low, with an estimated 64 per cent of registered electors casting ballots.
While these metrics indicate higher turnout than in 2015, it’s still to be seen whether the discourse of this campaign—which saw each war room look to tarnish their opponents’ candidate rosters, and partisan attack lines shared at nearly every campaign stop—will have an impact.
With files from CTV News’ Sonja Puzic, Phil Hahn and Nicole Bogart