It seems somehow fitting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should now have to preside over a minority parliament as a result of the Oct. 21 federal election. His decision, shortly after receiving a majority mandate in 2015, to renege on a promise to facilitate electoral reform was no doubt among the factors that led to Monday night’s reduction to minority status, which will closely simulate a proportional representation situation. When you look beyond the high-profile miscues, the Liberal government did have an impressive list of accomplishments under their watch, ranging from massively reducing the number of Canadians living in poverty to negotiating a new North American Free Trade Agreement with a massive and powerful neighbouring country run by a literal madman. The Liberals also restored the long-form census, shortsightedly dumped during under Stephen Harper’s Conservative regime, and reversed a regressive Harper-era decision to increase the eligibility age for Canada Pension Plan benefits.
It will hopefully be a chastened Trudeau who leads this minority parliament, having realized the rules are for everyone and promises, even those of the electoral variety, are not meant to be broken.
Trudeau and his Liberal colleagues are dealing with what should be a governable majority, given they won enough seats to need support from only one of three other parties: the NDP (most likely), the Bloc Quebecois (less so), or the Conservatives (not unimaginable depending on the issue) to pass any particular piece of legislation.
Neither the NDP or Conservatives are likely to want another election right away, given the need for time to reflect on this one. The Bloc, having returned from the political dead, are probably pretty happy with where they sit. Canadians in general would surely like a break from electioneering as well.
That should mean there is room for compromise and progress. Perhaps this minority could be a preview of how a reformed parliament could actually work to the benefit of Canadians. However the success of such an arrangement won’t just be on the Liberals. Other parties too will have to come to the table with open minds in order for anything to be accomplished. Stay tuned. The polling may be over, but there is still much to be determined.