Last week’s general elections in Canada ended in a minority government and the sense of an east-west divide to the nation. Canadians wanted to teach Trudeau a lesson but they also wanted him back.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party won in eastern Canada, while Andrew Scheer’s Conservative’s won in the west of the country.
In two western provinces – Saskatchewan and Alberta – Trudeau’s Liberals didn’t win a seat.
The regionalism of this election stood out in Quebec – a province where the majority speak French. The Bloc Quebecois, an expressly regional party, which supports Quebec’s sovereignty, won 32 seats of the 338-seats in the House of Commons.
Trudeau also faced a strong challenge in the final weeks of the campaign from the left-wing New Democratic Party. But the Party’s 44 seats in the old parliament were cut nearly in half.
Perhaps the biggest loser in this election was the leader of the People’s Party, Maxime Bernier, a populist leader, who has pushed against immigration and what he calls “extreme multiculturalism” and “climate change hysteria”. His Party didn’t win a single seat, include Bernier himself.
The former Attorney-General and Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was kicked out of the Liberal Party when she publicly spoke out against Trudeau for his part in the SNC-Lavalin affair, ran as an Independent and won.
Jane Philpott, a close friend of Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Secretary, who also criticized Trudeau, ran as an Independent, but lost.
Pollsters commented that the results showed that both for Trudeau’s Liberal Party and Conservatives, which both once drew supporters from across the country, could no longer do so.
So why the change from the 2015 election, which gave Trudeau his first majority parliament?
Commentators believe that many educated eastern, urban voters have delighted in Trudeau’s public persona of “feel-good progressivism” along with his ability to present a positive image of Canada on the world stage.
Frank Graves, the president of Ekos Research, an Ottawa polling company, describes it this way: “the two Canadas are now eye each other from cliffs on opposite sides, and they’ve got very little common ground on the key issues. The side that lost – the Conservative Party – particularly in light of the fact they actually won the popular vote, are going to be even angrier and more unhappy with the fact that they don’t see their voice being expressed in government.”
A professor of political science at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, puts it this way: Canada’s regional divisions were mostly based on practical concerns rather than ideology.
The overall feeling about the results of the election are that “a win is a win” and, although Trudeau’s Liberals and Trudeau himself were dented, Canadians wanted to teach him a lesson, but they also wanted him back.
Louis Cooper-journalist, TV news producer, director, assignment editor for ABC-Australia, CBC-Canada, CBS News (New York and London), CTV News-Canada and Newsworld International-Canada and the US.