The Election that Wasn’t

Emmitt Wilson ’22 

Politics Editor 

On September 21, 2021, Canada had a General Election. You would be forgiven for having already forgotten that it happened, given how utterly meaningless it was. Of the 338 seats in the House of Commons, a pitiful eight seats were switched between parties. These few changes will not affect how the new government is formed. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party will continue to govern with a minority government. The Liberals will still need the support of either the NDP or the Bloc in order to pass legislation and confidence votes.   

In policy terms, Trudeau will likely focus on childcare supports as it was a centerpiece of his campaign and is backed by the NDP. Beyond this, it is unlikely that government policy will change in any substantial way, given that the exact same people are in charge.  

The Liberal party suffered immense criticism for calling an early election during a pandemic. By election day, Global News polling found that almost 70% thought that an election was a bad idea. This showed in the results, as the polling from July indicated that a possible Liberal majority slipped away throughout the course of the campaign. Trudeau had trouble defending himself from accusations that the election was simply a cheap power grab. His troubles were exacerbated by every party reiterating this narrative. By early September, the Conservatives, led by Erin O’Toole, were ahead in nationwide polling. At this point, the election seemed much more contentious. But based on polling over time, O’Toole’s poor debate performance likely let the Liberals regain the lead at the last second, though nobody can be sure of the exact reasons.  

For the Green Party, this election was a disaster. They finished with two seats, unable to gain back the Fredericton seat lost in June when MP Jenica Atwin of Fredericton switched to the Liberal party over the Green’s stance on Israel-Palestine. The party saw a 4% drop in vote. Their new leader, Annamie Paul, lost the election for her seat in Toronto Centre. Paul announced she would resign as Green Party leader on September 27, 2021.  

The only clear sentiment that Canadians have shown in this election is that they are unsatisfied with their options. Voter turnout dropped 5% this election, from 67% to 62%, and both major parties lost voters. These votes mostly went to either the NDP or the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). This could signal polarization in the Canadian electorate as people grow unsatisfied with the major parties. While they won no seats, the largest vote increase in this election went to the far-right People’s Party of Canada. They found success with anti-vaxxers and anti-lockdown protesters, especially in Alberta. Though having no substantial effect on this year’s election, the PPC may become a grander political threat if reactionary political ideologies become more prevalent in the Canadian populace. While this election may have had extraordinarily negligible effect on the immediate political landscape in Canada, it is at least worth considering how its trends might affect Canadian Politics for years to come. 

Attribution: DrRandomFactor (original), Eric0892, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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