After a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it campaign (seriously, it was only 36 days), we have a Liberal minority government. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Two years — and $610 million in taxpayer dollars later, money not-so-well-spent in the hopes of getting a Liberal majority — we’re back right where we started. As Toronto-based researcher Ahmed Ali put it so perfectly on Twitter: "This election could have been an email."
It seems like many Canadians are feeling the same way. Maybe it’s because we’re all in a state of perpetual burnout from COVID and the 24/7 news cycle, but voters didn’t seem particularly excited by any of the platforms or candidates. Only 58.5% of eligible voters went to the polls, down from 67% in 2019. Speaking into the early hours of September 21, as ballots were still being counted but it was clear that his government would stay in power, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the win and said Canadians had given their party a clear indicator of what they want and need (which, we’re not too sure if that’s true, considering it’s pretty much the exact same outcome as two years ago), while fellow party leaders like the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh made promises to work with the Liberals. Here, we break down some of the night’s other big highlights.
What were the final election results?
After calling a pandemic election to vie for a majority Liberal government, Trudeau’s party has 158 seats, falling 12 seats short of what's needed for a majority. As of press, this is a gain of one seat from the 2019 election, which saw 157 Liberal MPs elected into the House of Commons. On their heels is the Conservative Party of Canada. Led by new leader Erin O’Toole, they garnered 119 seats (down from 121 in 2019). The Bloc Québécois came in with 34 and the NDP gained one seat with 25 MPs going to Ottawa.
What were the biggest upsets?
In an election that was already kind of an upset in and of itself, there weren’t too many big seat changes when it came to election night. Both Trudeau and the Conservatives' O’Toole won seats in their ridings, along with Jagmeet Singh, who was re-elected in British Columbia’s Burnaby South.
Elsewhere, the Green Party — which has faced internal turmoil as of late, with party leader Annamie Paul’s leadership called into question in July of this year even though she has shone on the public stage, particularly at the leaders’ debate — only took home two seats; down from three in the 2019 election (more on this below).
What does a Liberal minority mean for the NDP?
In 2019, CBC pundits called the NDP’s last-minute push to secure more seats the “Singh save.” While the party only upped their seat count by one this election, taking them to 25 MPs total in the HOC, they had a 1.7% increase in the popular vote, coming in at 17.7%. (The popular vote refers to the total votes overall, as opposed to the number of seats won by a party.)
Despite not making much gains this election, the NDP can still play an integral role in government; working with and supporting the Liberals in helping pass key legislation and pushing them on important issues like housing and Reconciliation — something they’ve done in the years since the last election. "Our fight will continue, we are never going to give up fighting for you and your families, as we have done in the pandemic, as we showed you in this campaign, we will continue to make sure you are first, your families are taken care of, that your needs are met. That’s what New Democrats are all about," said Singh in his concession speech.
What did Justin Trudeau say in his victory speech?
Speaking to Canadians in the wee hours of September 21, Trudeau promised to continue working for the country and spoke about “brighter days ahead.” Talking about the changes in the world that have occurred since he was first elected six years ago, Trudeau touched heavily on the pandemic, promising to navigate Canadians out of it. “You have given parliamentarians a clear mandate for us to … end this pandemic once and for all and build a better future,” he said. “You have elected a government in Ottawa that will fight for you and will deliver for you every day.”
Trudeau doubled down on listening to Canadians, saying the party has heard their needs pertaining to daycare, the health-care system, housing, and moving forward with Reconciliation, among other issues. Refinery29 has outlined the government’s platform, and whether or not he's lived up to past promises.
What did Erin O’Toole say about his loss?
In his first election at the helm of the Conservative party, O’Toole — who is more moderate than past Conservative leaders — celebrated the gains made by his party, while also acknowledging that, as reflected by the results, they still have a ways to go to prove themselves to Canadians.
Did Annamie Paul win her riding?
In one of the most upsetting results of the evening, Green Party leader Annamie Paul once again lost her bid to win Toronto Centre. This was Paul’s third time running. Paul has had a tough summer. In July, the party leader — who made history as the first Black person and first Jewish woman to lead a federal party — faced a vote of non-confidence from her party. The vote, which was fuelled by racism and sexism, was ultimately cancelled; but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t leave some party members, and Canadians, wondering what the heck is going on with the Green Party.
Were there any wins for representation?
While things may mostly look the same at the head of our government structure, this election marked some great wins for representation. In Ontario, Liberal candidate Rechie Valdez was elected for Mississauga — Streetsville, becoming the first Filipino woman elected as an MP. In the Edmonton Griesbach riding, NDP candidate Blake Desjarlais ousted the Conservative incumbent to become the first Two Spirit person elected as an MP.
Despite the fact that the People's Party of Canada got a lot of attention during the election (including for throwing gravel at the prime minister), happily Maxime Bernier was again defeated by Conservative incumbent Richard Lehoux. Still, it’s troubling that he increased the popular vote for several MPs in his party across the country.