The Most Pointless Election Since 1965

2019 & 2021

We have just undergone a futile election which has produced substantively the same outcome as the previous general election in October 2019: a Liberal plurality around 15 to 20 seats short of a majority.

On 21 October 2019, Canadians elected the 43rd Parliament as follows:

PartySeat CountPopular VoteVote Total
Bloc Quebecois327.7% 1,377,234
New Democrats2415.9%2,845,949

As of around 0900 on 21 September, the preliminary results show that on 20 September 2021, we have elected a 44th Parliament virtually identical to its predecessor. The results in some ridings might change as Elections Canada counts the rest of the mail-in ballots this week, but the general result of a Liberal plurality at roughly the same level as two years ago will not.

PartySeat CountPopular Vote
Bloc Quebecois337.7%
New Democrats2617.7%

Thus far, the Liberals have lost one seat, from 157 to 156, and the Conservatives have held steady at 121.

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Voting in the 44th General Federal Election and Forming a Government Thereafter

Casting and Counting Ballots

Canadians not amongst those who voted in the advanced polls in record numbers shall go to the polls today (myself included) to elect their MPs for the 44th Parliament. However, Elections Canada has cautioned that we might not know the final results of this election, and the winner in each of the 338 ridings, for up to 5 days (26 September),[1] because of the logistics of this pandemic election. Elections Canada explained in a recent press release:

“Given the number of local special ballots we have received, we expect most of the country’s 338 ridings to report the results of their local special ballot count on Tuesday, September 21, and the vast majority to finish counting by Wednesday, September 22. However, due to high volumes or logistical challenges, the full count may take up to four days in some ridings.”[2]

While Elections Canada can start counting ballots cast in local advance polls on election night, and the mail-in ballots and ballots cast by Canadian Armed Forces personnel up to 14 days before polling day (so as of 6 September), it cannot start counting local mail-in ballots (from locals who vote by mail within their own ridings) until tomorrow, 21 September. It is possible that these could tip the balance in some closely contested ridings. And given that the opinion polls taken throughout this campaign from 15 August to 19 September have shown a consistent statistical dead heat between the Liberals and Conservatives, with each hovering between 31 and 34%, we seem poised to elect another minority parliament today – so close races could affect the overall outcome of the general election and make the difference between a plurality or a majority for one party over another.

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A Day in the Life of the 32nd Parliament, Part II

Brian Mulroney responded to Pierre Trudeau with convivial good humour, and his half of the exchange provides an example of my observation yesterday that MPs in the 1980s often spoke to their counterparts directly in the second person. Mulroney’s jovial speech contains several “yous”.

I think that it was Paul Wells who described Mulroney’s voice as a “loungebar baritone.” I’ve always thought that if Mulroney gets bored and wants to supplement his income, he could make good money narrating audiobooks. He has, in my view, the best speaking voice of any Prime Minister, at least since the advent of radio and certainly of the last half of the 20th century up to today.

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A Day in the Life of the 32nd Parliament

The first televised proceedings of the House of Commons of Canada began in 1977, fully two years before C-SPAN began televising the United States House of Representatives. Our equivalent of C-SPAN, CPAC, has now uploaded online all the video footage going back to the late 1970s and the first ministry of Pierre Trudeau. CPAC’s archives provide a window into the past. Don – “Welcome to the Brooooaaaaaadcaaast” – Newman has observed that the House of Commons changed starkly after the election in 1993, which wiped out the old Progressive Conservative Party and saw the rise of Quebec nationalism in the Bloc and Western alienation in the Reform Party; having now watched far too many of these videos or listened to them in the background whilst working on other things, I have begun to grasp what he means. The House of Commons truly did seem more collegial – and therefore more witty and entertaining – and full of banter rather than truly bitter acrimony during the Trudeau and Mulroney governments than it has since at least 2000 or 2004; I would regard the 35th and 36th Parliaments elected in 1993 and 1997 as a transitional phase. Chretien, in his rhetorical clumsiness, seems to have popularised the practice of speaking from notes in the House of Commons of Canada, while Trudeau and Mulroney could carry out quite eloquently without them.

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The Caretaker Convention in Newfoundland & Labrador in 2019

The Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law published my and Lyle Skinner’s piece on recent developments concerning the Caretaker Convention in Newfoundland & Labrador, including the Executive Council Office’s Guidelines from 2019 (similar to those of PCO in Ottawa) and how the previous Liberal Premier, Dwight Ball, circumvented them in a minority legislature by asking the Lieutenant Governor to re-appoint him to the office that he already occupied.

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