The Liberal Party of Canada failed to secure a majority in Parliament, but will form another minority government. Little has changed in terms of seat counts, and the composition of the House of Commons will be largely the same in Canada's 44th Parliament as it was in the 43rd. As of this morning, total seat counts show the Liberal Party of Canada gaining three seats, the Conservative Party of Canada maintaining their seat count, the NDP gaining one seat, the Bloc Québécois gaining two seats, and the Green Party of Canada losing one seat.
The Liberals were unable to make significant gains in Quebec, and the Conservatives were unable to destabilize Liberal support in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Together, this resulted in an electoral outcome that changes little.
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, implied in the first leaders' debate of the campaign that he would consider calling another election within eighteen months if his party did not secure a majority. Whether he maintains that position will be consequential for the tone and priorities set at the commencement of the 44th Parliament.
Erin O'Toole conceded the race in a generally positive speech at approximately 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. O'Toole stated that Canadians refused to give the Liberals the majority that they had hoped for when they called the election. The tone and content of O'Toole's speech suggest that he hopes to stay on as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. That decision will ultimately be up to his caucus and party members.
Leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, delivered a speech just before 1:00a.m. on Tuesday morning. Singh committed to continue his party's fight in Parliament. Singh's tact suggests that the NDP is prepared to play a similar role in the next minority parliament as it did after the 2019 election, advocating for NDP priorities and pushing the Liberals to take progressive positions on key issues.
The Leader of the Bloc Québécois expressed some dismay at being forced to fight an unnecessary election that did little to change the state of Parliament, asking, "Why did they [the Liberals] interrupt my barbecue?" during his speech to supporters. Little has changed in Quebec, and the Bloc Québécois did not make the gains that they thought were possible early in the campaign.
The Green Party of Canada failed to secure a seat in Toronto—Centre for leader Annamie Paul. In her speech to supporters, Paul was clearly disappointed by her party's performance. The future of the Green Party, which has been plagued by infighting and turmoil, is uncertain after these results.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a speech at 1:20 a.m. Tuesday morning. Trudeau stated that the Liberals received a "clear mandate" to move the country forward. Despite the composition of the House looking effectively the same as before the election, Trudeau stated that the country is united around the Liberal plan and ready to move forward together. Trudeau stated that he understands that Canadians do not want elections at this time, but recognizes that the country wants to move forward to deal with the crises at hand. Trudeau thanked fellow party leaders and Elections Canada workers. He congratulated fellow Liberals. The Prime Minister also stated that this election demonstrates that Canadian democratic institutions and electoral systems are strong.
The effects of the pandemic on the election were visible, with long lines continuing after polls closed in some ridings. This was particularly true in densely-populated Toronto ridings.
The key to victory for the Liberals was their ability to hold their positions in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The magnitude of their victory was not as significant as they hoped when calling the election, but a victory will be accepted nonetheless. With a House of Commons largely in the same position as the day the election began, questions will likely be asked about the Liberals' judgement in calling this election.
The People's Party of Canada (PPC) was considered a potential spoiler for Conservative Party victories, but the PPC did not have any seismic effect and did not secure a seat. However, Conservatives may well have lost valuable votes to the PPC in highly competitive races, as the PPC likely narrowed already thin Conservative margins in some urban prairie ridings.
Green Party support undeniably collapsed in this election. It is likely that a reduced vote-split for progressives due to a weak Green Party delivered solid Liberal victories in some competitive ridings. Former Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, was re-elected in Saanich – Gulf Islands, but committed not to run for leadership after the election. Political observers will watch to see if May keeps this commitment in the weeks that follow.
Party Standings (as of Tuesday morning)
The Liberal Party of Canada will form a minority government, elected or leading in 158 ridings.
The Conservative Party of Canada will be the Official Opposition in the 44th Parliament, elected or leading in 119 ridings. The Conservative Party is currently leading the popular vote (5,432,041 votes) for the second consecutive election.
The Bloc Quebecois remains in third position, elected or leading in 34 ridings.
The NDP remain in fourth position, elected or leading in 25 ridings.
The Greens are reduced to two seats.
The PPC will not hold a seat in the 44th Parliament.
Ministers Lose Seats
Three Liberal Cabinet Ministers lost their seats in this election, dealing significant blows to the Liberal Party on a night that was otherwise underwhelming for many.
In Ontario, Minister of Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef was upset by Conservative candidate Michelle Ferreri in the riding of Peterborough—Kawartha.
Also in Ontario, the Conservatives enjoyed a significant victory for candidate Anna Roberts in the riding of King—Vaughn, upsetting Seniors Minister Deb Schulte. This race was a silver lining for the Conservatives in an otherwise weak performance in the GTA.
In Nova Scotia, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan was unseated by Conservative Rick Perkins in the riding of South Shore—St. Margarets.
Other Significant Races
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the NDP lost their only seat in Atlantic Canada, St. John's East, to Liberal Joanne Thompson. This was a seat formerly held by beloved NDP MP Jack Harris who won his seat back from the Liberals in 2019 after a surprise loss in 2015. Harris campaigned hard for NDP nominee Mary Shortall to no avail.
In Nova Scotia, in addition to their big win in South Shore – St. Margarets, the Conservatives also picked up the riding of Cumberland-Colchester, with Conservative candidate Stephen Ellis heading to Ottawa with a win by a significant margin.
Liberal candidate Jenica Atwin is likely to hold her seat in the New Brunswick riding of Fredericton. Atwin crossed the floor from the Greens to the Liberals in the last parliament. This was a closely watched riding and remains a tight race.
The Green Party of Canada enjoyed a gain in the Ontario riding of Kitchener—Centre. This riding was a known weak point for the Liberals following Raj Saini's withdrawal from the race. Green Party candidate Mike Morrice was successful in this race and will give new representation for Ontario Greens in the House of Commons.
The Liberals gained the riding of Aurora Oak-Ridges Richmond Hill, defeating Conservative Leona Alleslev who was originally elected as a Liberal in the 2015 election but crossed the floor to the Conservative Party. Alleslev played a prominent role in the Conservative caucus, and the Liberals will regard this as a notable win.
Annamie Paul was not competitive in the riding of Toronto—Centre, to the disappointment of her supporters in a fractured Green Party. Liberal incumbent Marci Ien won the race by a considerable margin.
Liberal candidate Yasir Naqvi won a closely watched race in Ottawa Centre, holding the seat for the Liberals after the departure of Liberal Cabinet Minister Catherine McKenna.
Former leadership candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada Leslyn Lewis won her race in Haldimand-Norfolk. Lewis will likely play a prominent role in Erin O'Toole's caucus, and is certain to be a leader for social conservatives on the Conservative benches. Leadership dynamics between O'Toole and Lewis, as well as Lewis' influence in shaping Conservative policy, will be of focus for those watching the Conservative Party's adjustments after its electoral loss.
Very little changed in battleground Quebec, which contributed to the static results of this election.
Maxime Bernier failed to secure his seat in the riding of Beauce, preventing the PPC from taking a seat in Parliament.
The Bloc Quebecois were able to hold their position in Quebec, failing to make gains but solidifying the party's position.
Edmonton Centre was set to be a highly competitive race between Conservative incumbent James Cumming and Liberal candidate Randy Boissanault, who held the seat after the 2015 election but lost the seat to Cumming in 2019. This race remains too close to call.
The Liberals also gained the riding of Calgary Skyview, with Liberal George Chahal defeating Conservative incumbent Jag Sahota.
Edmonton Griesbach is a possible pickup for the New Democrats, but the race remains too close to call. If NDP candidate Blake Desjarlais can defeat Conservative incumbent Kerry Diotte, this would be a significant win for the NDP.
Vancouver Granville was a riding to watch. The Liberals hoped to win the seat back, with former Liberal Cabinet Minister Jody Wilson Raybould not running. Raybould sat as an independent MP after being ejected from the Liberal caucus. The race remains too close to call, with the Liberals and Conservatives deadlocked.
The NDP gained the riding of Port Moody—Coquitlam, with Bonita Zarillo defeating Conservative incumbent Nelly Shin. The Conservatives won the seat from the NDP in the 2019 election.
Elizabeth May was re-elected in her riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, providing some semblance of stability for a thin Green Party caucus.
Nanaimo-Ladysmith could be a pickup for the NDP over Green Party incumbent Paul Manly, but the race remains too close to call.
What to expect in the next few days
Parties remain hopeful that mail-in ballots and special ballots will have an impact on seat counts. The NDP in particular were in a number of tight races in the early hours of Tuesday morning, and they will be hopeful that ballots not yet counted will push them closer to third position in the House of Commons.
What to expect in this minority government
With Justin Trudeau securing a fresh mandate and a third electoral victory, the Liberals are likely to regard this win as a clear indication that the they can proceed with their key platform points and work with other parties to execute their plan. The NDP and Bloc Quebecois in particular will seek to exert influence in Parliament to advance their objectives.
This outcome demonstrates that Canadians had little desire for an election, and party leaders may hope to avoid an election in the near future in an effort to avoid souring their voter support. This may give the Liberals license to aggressively pursue their agenda in a Parliament that is averse to forcing an election.
Questions will likely be asked about the Liberals' decision to call an election during a pandemic, given that the outcome of this election is largely consistent with the state of the House when the election was called. Political observers will ask questions about Justin Trudeau's future, wondering whether he will be capable of increasing Liberal support beyond minority governments. There will likely be conversations within the Liberal Party to determine the future of the party and the salience of Justin Trudeau's political brand among Canadian voters.
Erin O'Toole will likely have difficult conversations with his caucus in the coming days and weeks. The caucus will include some additions from Atlantic Canada and fewer elected members from Ontario and the prairies. It is likely that O'Toole will attempt to spin the results as a victory for his caucus, but that may be a difficult case to be make. Political observers will be watching for signs of a leadership struggle in the near future.
Erin O'Toole's campaign strategy clearly focused on Ontario, using progressive conservative positions (including campaigning with Brian Mulroney) to close gaps between the Conservatives and the Liberals in battlegrounds. This strategy will be hotly debated, given that this election resulted in notable Conservative losses. It is equally likely that critics will take issue with Erin O'Toole's reticence to fully support robust vaccination policies.
Jacques J.M. Shore, Partner – Jacques.Shore@gowlingwlg.com
Suzanne Sabourin, Counsel – Suzanne.Sabourin@gowlingwlg.com
Michael Walsh, Articling Student – Michael.Walsh@gowlingwlg.com