Skip to content

The election equation

So the dust has settled and the unofficial numbers are in after voters elected members of the House of Commons to the 43rd Canadian Parliament.
0

So the dust has settled and the unofficial numbers are in after voters elected members of the House of Commons to the 43rd Canadian Parliament.

A proverbially bruised and battered Justin Trudeau just barely hung in there, securing a minority government despite Andrew Scheer's party technically taking the popular vote.

But before Conservative supporters start calling foul that their party won't form government after getting 34.4 per cent of the overall popular vote, up from the Trudeau Liberals’ 33.1 per cent, let’s remember those are not the only two options. No matter how hard those two parties would have you believe it, there are other choices.

The Bloc, albeit only an option in Quebec, surged in power, with almost 1.4 million votes, or less than eight per cent of the popular vote, tripling their number of seats to 32 from 10 in 2015.

With more than 1.1 million votes, the Greens also saw their number of seats triple — granted, to three from just one, yet nevertheless no small feat for what was considered a hopeless, fringe party barely 10 years ago. That’s 6.5 per cent.

Last but not least of course, is the NDP — with 2.8 million votes, who despite a strong show of support  actually saw their number of seats falter substantially, slashed almost in half from 44 in 2015 to 24 this time around. But that's still almost 16 per cent of the popular vote, and a much better result than what months ago seemed would be a disastrous single digit seat count.

Meanwhile, Maxime Bernier's People’s Party of Canada — whose future after failing to capture a single seat arguably seems dubious — will probably be known as a historical footnote that, much to Scheer’s chagrin, succeeded only at draining almost 300,000 votes from the Conservatives with only 1.6 per cent of the popular vote.

So while the Conservatives technically got 6.1 million votes compared with the Liberals’ 5.9 million, those numbers alone paint an incomplete and frankly very skewed picture.

Let’s do some basic math to bring this image into clear focus.

The Liberals, NDP and Greens are to some varying degree all left-of-centre on the political spectrum. So, 5.9 million votes, plus 2.8 million, with an additional million-plus, brings us close to 10 million.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives, who essentially stand alone, have only 6.1 million. Even with the PPC's fewer-than 300,000, we're barely at about 6.4 million.

There is of course the Bloc Quebecois, who also basically stand alone with shy of 1.4 million. But an alliance between the Bloc and the Conservatives seems somewhat unlikely, as Conservatives would struggle to sell their image as pro-pipeline patriots if they started shaking hands with the leaders of the province their Western constituents in very large part blame for all of their worldly woes.

In other words, a minority Scheer government would undoubtedly have collapsed in fewer than two years under the weight of a no-confidence vote led by a strong opposition representing almost 10 million combined Canadian voters.

But the Liberals have — barring any more SNC-Lavalin level scandals — an opportunity to maintain a meaningful grip on government.

Further breaking down the election equation’s numbers for additional perspective, let’s also consider that the Greens only got three seats, but got more than 1.1 million votes, shy of the Bloc whose nearly 1.4 million votes got them a whopping 32 seats.

And the NDP, with double the popular support of the Bloc, which doesn't even field candidates outside of Quebec, trailed behind in fourth place on the federal stage with eight fewer seats.

Conservatives can bemoan their perceived lack of representation all they want.

But the Greens and the NDP have the most legitimate grievance, when despite commanding about as much and even more popular support than the Bloc, they barely even earned anywhere near as many seats.

So while the Conservatives indeed technically, albeit barely, won the popular vote, the numbers don’t lie — a majority of Canadians did not support Scheer.

Most Canadians did, however, support left-of-centre parties.