There were no great dramas coming out of the 2019 Federal Election. But Canadians sent important signals of what they want.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberals lost 22 seats and their majority with it. They lost a quarter of their seats in Atlantic Canada. They lost some 20 seats in Quebec. They were wiped out in Alberta and Saskatchewan and their only prairie seats are 4 in Manitoba. They split three ways in BC. Ontario saved the government.
The nation said to Justin Trudeau that Canadians were tired of antics and selfies, and that compromise of due process and obstruction of justice have real consequences. Justin Trudeau has been given a chance to change his attitudes of self-entitlement and the arrogance of acting as if he was above the law. The India trip, the costumes, the Aga Khan-paid vacation, the Blackface gave many Canadians a disturbing image. It is not the one they want for their nation. He has made us look like a silly people. Canadians also have an inherent sense of fair play. Trudeau tested that in his treatment of Attorney-General Jody Wilson-Raybould in the SNC Affair. His silencing of Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion who found several “conflicts of interests.” And his shutting down of the Justice Committee when more witnesses wanted to testify. If he does not change, he will be gone in the next election. Minority governments in Canada have an average life span of two years.
Andrew Scheer led the Conservatives to a significant resurgence increasing their seats from 95 to 121. He was the “best man” to be Prime Minister. On the basis of seat gains he was clearly the winner. His party is represented in every region while Trudeau’s Liberals — save for token representation — are basically out of the game in the west. But he could easily have won the election. The Conservative vote was 34.5% against 33% for the Liberals. They made gains almost everywhere. His failure to win the government was based on several factors. In Quebec, where early numbers in the campaign indicated the Tories could win as many as 16-20 seats, they tried to go toe-to-toe with a resurgent Bloc Québecois on soft nationalist issues such as having Revenue Quebec have full control over tax collection. Both parties mimicked the CAQ playbook. The lesson that should be learned is that appealing to nationalists doesn’t work when there is a home-grown alternative. But the Tories did hold their 10 seats. In Ontario, numbers early in the campaign showed the Tories winning perhaps 70 seats. Then Mr. Scheer gave his personal views on abortion. The issue dogged him incessantly. As much as he assured Canadians he would never allow any discussion of changing Canada’s pro-choice laws, many just were not buying it. Especially in Ontario. The Tories ended up with just over half the number of Ontario seats that were possible early in the campaign. Canadians sent a signal that they reject social conservatism — the inclination to legislate personal adult behaviour — and that it has no place in our public agenda. That message certainly prevented the Conservatives from making the urban breakthroughs they needed.
The lesson for Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet is simple. Quebecers votes for you came out of frustration with a Justin Trudeau perceived as being nothing more than a privileged teenager out of touch with their lives — particularly of those in the regions. They wanted to vote for a native son. They did not vote for your party because of any resurgent tide of sovereignty. Govern yourself accordingly representing Quebecers interests in Ottawa. Act for all Quebecers. You have no mandate for anything else.
To Jagmeet Singh and the NDP Canadians said stop the extreme economic and social rhetoric. Canadians will not stand for higher taxes, more social engineering nor a command state government. You lost almost half your seats. Another couple of years of your views and you may lose yet another half. Despite this you sit with great influence in this minority parliament. Responsible and moderate actions by your party will determine its and your futures.
There was one great lesson that all leaders should note. The victory of former Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould in winning her seat as an independent demonstrated that conscience, courage and character can overcome party politics. And that is a very good thing.