Via Esquerda Online
In practice Canada did not need an election still in the middle of the pandemic, but Trudeau did. The Prime Minister bet all his chips on victory with a majority. But the expected applause arrived heralding yet another minority government. On September 20 Canadians went to the polls and, also by mail, voted in an early election called by Trudeau after parliament was dissolved in August.
The “House of Commons” in Canada is composed of members of parliament (MPs) and senators. The leader of the party with the most members in this House becomes Prime Minister, unlike, for example, Brazil, where a direct vote is cast for President. The House of Commons has 338 members, and a minimum of 170 is required to win a majority.
Trudeau’s Liberal Party won 159 seats, representing about 47% of the total number of seats. The Conservative Party, the main right-wing party in the country with Erin O’Toole as leader, won 119 seats, totaling 35.2%. The Quebecois bloc got 33 seats, and the New Democratic Party (NPD) got 25 seats in this election, one more than in the last election. The NPD is a social democratic party, and its main public figure is the son of Indians, Jagmeet Singh, the first legislator to wear a turban in Ontario. The Green Party won only 2 seats. The extreme right-wing and highly xenophobic People’s Party of Canada (PPC), despite not winning any seats in the House of Commons, managed a significant increase in the popular vote, winning 4.94% of the vote and electing and re-electing district candidates in several regions (Read more below).
Trudeau thought that with the anticipation of the elections he could have more support among the population, but the elections had only 60% participation, at a cost of $70 million. In recent months, the Premier had to face another chapter in the mass killings against indigenous people, with the bones of children found in old residential schools, and the issue of the environment, which stirred public opinion after Canada was the scene of a heat wave that caused wildfires, leaving the skies over much of the country grey. In Vancouver, for example, a crowd of people took to the streets in late August in protest calling for priority on the candidates’ agenda on global warming1, a topic of little inclination in their campaigns.
On the economic front, already after the Liberal victory, the president of BMO Financial Group said that “almost all parties have proposed increased fiscal spending and that this minority government will continue with a loose fiscal policy, but will come with increased spending due to improved economy and revenues”2. Although Trudeau had his gamble lost, he won the election, but without fail further eroded his image. Now in a minority and with little “audience,” it is possible that in the remaining 18 months of his government, Trudeau will try to hand over the leadership of the party to another public figure with more consensus outwardly, such as François-Phillippe Champagne, the current Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, or perhaps, Pablo Rodriguez, the Argentine-Canadian, leader of the government and previously Minister of Heritage and Multiculturalism.
Fighting the extreme right-wing
Finally, it is known that the Liberal Party had a relative advantage in this election due to the rise in popularity of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), which somehow split the vote from the right, thus weakening the power of attracting voters to the Conservative Party. The PPC phenomenon draws attention by the fact that this Party, led by Maxime Bernier, got almost 5% of the vote in these elections, which is significant for a party that was founded almost recently, in 2018, and that has been gaining a number of supporters due to its proposals for, for example, reduced immigration policies; repeal of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and Canada’s exit from the Paris Agreement. The PPC has lately led violent anti-vaccine protests in front of hospitals and schools in Quebec, and in addition is opposed to vaccine passports and mandatory vaccinations.
Evidencing the imminently dangerous character of the PPC, exposing also the Conservative Party as a threat to democracy, and of course denouncing the Liberal Party as a big conglomerate of big capitalist interests, seems to be an indispensable task for the Canadian social movements and working class.