Who will win the election of Canada

Background current

Canada elected a new House of Commons on October 21st. The Liberal Party is once again the strongest parliamentary group. Justin Trudeau faces another term as prime minister - albeit with a minority government.

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau celebrate the victory of the Liberal Party on the evening of the parliamentary election on October 21, 2019. Trudeau is again awarded the government contract. (& copy picture-alliance / AP, The Canadian Press)

In Canada, the Liberal Party (LP) won the general election. With 157 out of a total of 338 seats in the House of Commons, it remains the strongest force, but loses its absolute majority in the House of Commons. Its chairman, Justin Trudeau, is again given the task of forming a government. In his second term as prime minister, however, he will head a minority government.

Who will move into parliament?

The Conservative Party (CP), chaired by Andrew Scheer, received 121 seats in the lower house (+22). With 34.4 percent of the vote, the Conservatives are just ahead of the Liberals (33 percent). The fact that they still get significantly fewer seats is due to the Canadian majority suffrage and the layout of the constituencies (ridings) from which a member of the lower house is elected. In rural western Canada, the Conservatives have won many seats, in Saskatchewan Province even in all 14 constituencies. In the more populous east, particularly Ontario and Québec, however, the Liberals were ahead in most constituencies.

The smaller parties will play a critical role in the new legislative period, because parliament is gaining power over the government: Trudeau's minority government will depend on the support of members of parliament for its decisions.

The Bloc Québécois under Yves-François Blanchet received 7.7 percent of the vote and moved into the lower house with 32 MPs. The social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) received 24 seats in the lower house (15.9 percent of the vote). The NDP under its chairman Jagmeet Singh, the son of Sikh immigrants from India and the first non-white, non-Christian party leader, has lost 15 of the last seats it held. The Greens, on the other hand, improved significantly: Canada's Green Party won three seats in parliament with a share of 6.5 percent (2015: 3.5 percent). Elizabeth May is the only party with a woman at the top.

The right-wing populist People’s Party of Canada (PPC), founded in September 2018, has missed its entry into parliament. She received 1.6 percent of the vote, but could not win in any constituency. With this, its chairman Maxime Bernier also loses his seat in the lower house. Jody Wilson-Raybould is the only independent MP to have received a mandate. Wilson-Raybould was a minister in Trudeau's first cabinet but resigned in February 2019 and was expelled from the Liberal Party by Trudeau. With four First Nations, four Métis and two Inuit, a total of ten representatives of indigenous groups are moving into the House of Commons.


Canada in the Commonwealth

Canada has been independent for almost 90 years, but is still part of the Commonwealth of Nations. The political system combines a constitutional monarchy - the British Queen is head of state - and a representative, parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster model with a federal system and a Supreme Court based on the American model. The Queen is represented in Canada by a Governor General, since October 2017 Julie Payette. She is, among other things, commander in chief of the armed forces and can dissolve parliament. Since a constitutional crisis almost 100 years ago, the office has been largely bound by instructions from the Prime Minister. Since Canada - just like Australia or South Africa - gained foreign policy and legislative sovereignty with the Westminster Statute in 1931, the governor general has been appointed on the proposal of the prime minister.

How does the Canadian electoral system work?

The Canadian constitution provides for parliamentary elections every five years. Since a reform in 2006, however, elections have been made every four years: on the third Monday in October. In Canada, as in the United States and Great Britain, there is a principle of relative majority voting First past the post. As a result - as well as the logic of the lower house, which was geared towards confrontation - a stable two-party system of conservatives and liberals developed.

Since the 1920s, however, with the increasing heterogeneity of society, so too have new parties emerged. Because of this combination - majority voting and multi-party system - there have often been minority government at the federal level in Canada over the past few decades. In the provinces, however, two-party systems can often still be found.


Parliament in the Canadian political system

The House of Commons, the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, consists of two chambers: the House of Commons and the Senate. Similar to London, the government and opposition factions face each other in the House of Commons. The governor-general instructs the chairman of the strongest party to form a government. The Canadian Prime Minister has extensive political power, including over the legislature. The Cabinet consists of around 30 ministers. Most of them have a seat in the House of Commons. Senators also rarely belong to the government, for example if not all regions or population groups are adequately represented. The Senate: The 105 senators in the first chamber of parliament are appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister. Members of the ruling party and representatives of the Canadian regions often sit in the Senate. However, they are not directly elected, which is why their democratic legitimacy is sometimes called into question. Nevertheless, the Senate is largely on an equal footing with the House of Commons in the legislative process, apart from financial laws and tax matters. Prime Minister Trudeau reformed the selection process at the end of 2015, which has been a committee since then.

What were the main campaign issues?

The election campaign began on September 11, 2019 with the dissolution of parliament by Governor General Julie Payette. The parties then had 40 days to advertise themselves.

Justin Trudeau emphasized his party's successes in government during the election campaign, such as a comparatively low unemployment rate of 5.5 percent (as of September 2019), his commitment to the introduction of a CO2 tax and the "Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement" concluded in 2018 (CUSMA ). The Prime Minister came under pressure in early 2019 when he was dealing with a corruption scandal involving the construction company SNC-Lavalin. For example, the former Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould is said to have been pressured by the Prime Minister to stop the investigation into suspected corruption and fraud against the Montreal company. As a result, she and another minister, Jane Philpott, resigned and were expelled from the party.

The Conservatives repeatedly questioned Trudeau's integrity because of the scandal, among other things. During the election campaign, they promised stricter border controls and an economically oriented immigration policy. They rejected a CO2 tax, they wanted to abolish the recently introduced CO2 tax by the Liberals. Andrew Scheer also announced that he would want to take action against organized crime. Maxime Bernier sharply criticized the liberal government's migration policy during the election campaign. His People’s Party of Canada wanted to abolish multiculturalism, among other things. Its preservation and promotion has been enshrined in law as a government principle since 1971 and by the Canadian Multiculturalism Act since 1988.

A controversial law passed in Québec in June 2019 was also campaigned. The so-called "Bill 21" forbids officials from wearing religious symbols in public service. The Supreme Court in Canada is currently reviewing constitutional compliance. In addition to the protection of minorities, the New Democrats placed affordable housing, better financing of the health system and an increase in the minimum wage in the focus of their election campaign. The Green Party criticized the government's climate policy, which it does not go far enough with the CO2 tax. She also focused in her election pledges on reconciliation with indigenous people, democratic reforms and a green-focused economy. The Bloc Québécois promoted Quebec nationalism and sought greater sovereignty for the province, while the People's Party of Canada advocated restricting immigration and less regulation of firearms.


Decentralization in Canada

Canada is a federally organized state, which is divided into ten provinces and three territories as well as various self-government arrangements of the indigenous population. Regional identities play a big role, both due to demographic and cultural differences. An important reason for the federal order was the dualism between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians. In Québec, around seven million people (almost 79 percent) speak French, while in western provinces such as Manitoba, the French-speaking population is negligible. Québec enjoys constitutional autonomy. Only the province of New Brunswick is officially bilingual. The proportion of the indigenous population also differs between the regions: In Manitoba and Saskatchewan there are around 15 percent First Nations, in Nunavut the Inuit make up the majority.

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