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Federal Election 2021: Trudeau Liberal’s returned with a Minority Government

Despite losing the popular vote, Justin Trudeau has been re-elected Prime Minister and will lead the 44th Canadian Parliament with a minority government. At time of writing, there are a number of seats too close to call, with the Liberal Party currently winning or leading with 159 seats, the Conservatives 119, the NDP 25 and Bloc Quebecois 33.

Most incumbent MPs seeking re-election have kept their seats, with most senior ministers returning including Minister Patty Hajdu, Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister François-Phillippe Champagne, Minister Bill Blair and Minister Anita Anand. Three Liberal ministers are projected to lose their seats: Bernadette Jordan in South Shore—St. Margarets, and Maryam Monsef in Peterborough-Kawartha and Deb Schulte in King-Vaughan. In other notable races, Green Party leader Annamie Paul lost in her attempt to pick up Toronto Centre and came in fourth, and People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier failed in attempting to win back his former seat of Beauce.

As Parliament returns, it is likely that the Trudeau Liberal’s will seek support from opposition parties on an issue by issue basis, as they have for the past two years. What remains to be seen is if the NDP feel any further emboldened with these election results, holding the balance of power in Parliament.

The outcome of the election, which closely mimics the election results in 2019, continues to call into question how necessary triggering the $610-million election was. We will gain a better understanding of the government’s priorities and direction in the coming weeks as a new Cabinet is sworn in and the government delivers the Speech from the Throne.

Key Takeaways

Revisiting Canada’s Biomanufacturing Strategy: Canadians have shown throughout this election that healthcare is a top priority. The government,  with likely a new Minister holding the portfolio, will revisit their previous biomanufacturing strategy to ensure that it meets the needs of the current political and health-related context in Canada.  With many provinces enduring a fourth wave of the pandemic and health care being top of mind for Canadians, the newly elected government will have to show constituents that they have a plan to make our biomanufacturing sector stronger, more innovative and more resilient.

Pharmacare: The Liberal Party’s campaign did not discuss the government’s agenda to lower the cost of drugs, a rare drugs strategy or the creation of the Canada Drug Agency outside of a small reference to pharmacare in the Liberla platform document. The lack of a specific and forward-looking pharmacare plan in the Liberal campaign platform points towards a potential loss in political will on this file. How this file proceeds will be dependent on the NDP’s approach with the government as well as understanding the composition of Cabinet when it is announced. It is clear that there are other health agenda items that have higher priority for the Liberals, including a planned wage increase for PSWs that had a fiscal commitment associated with it – unlike Pharmacare.

Liberal Leadership: The Liberals won the election on Monday night but this isn’t the campaign result they were seeking. This failed swing for a majority will be the second minority Parliament in a row under Justin Trudeau’s leadership and with several races still left to call, his government could be in a weaker position than they were just five weeks ago. When all the votes were counted, any Liberal gains were offset by losses in other parts of the country, and a resilient Bloc prevented much needed gains in Quebec. It remains to be seen how the Liberal Party reacts to this result. In his address last night, Justin Trudeau said the message was clear that Canadians wanted the government to “get back to work”. While  the government will continue with its agenda, questions will be raised if Justin Trudeau is the right leader at this point and if he will lead the Liberal’s into a forth election campaign.

Conservative Party in Opposition: Despite the Conservatives reorienting their party message this year with a more moderate platform and leader, the party has lost 5 seats from the previous mandate. ​​There were, however, some wins for those under the blue banner on election night, with the Conservatives gaining seats in Atlantic Canada and unseating two cabinet ministers, showing that some voters are ready for change. During his speech last night, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole was defending his approach of appealing to a wider and more moderate audience aiming to convince supporters that this approach must continue into the future of the party. Despite this, the Conservative Leader began his campaign to keep his top spot as leader before the vote was counted and will face many questions from caucus on how the campaign decided to align themselves with the centre of the political spectrum over the Conservative-right. This is evidenced by the People’s Party of Canada growing  in support during this campaign, with a number of Liberal wins in ridings where the CPC and PPC had more vote share than the Liberals combined.

Emboldened NDP: Coming out of an election that produced almost the same result as before the campaign started, even the smallest wins make a difference. As of Tuesday morning, the NDP is the only political party that appears to be in a position where it is coming out of the election with a few more seats and a higher share of the popular vote. During the campaign, Jagmeet Singh was clear that a stronger NDP meant they would have more room to push policies to the government. For health care, this means the NDP will seek to leverage their balance of power situation to seek ambitious expansions they committed to in the election, whether that be national pharmacare, dental care, or long-term care. However, this growth in seat count in 2021 pales in comparison to the 20 losses the party suffered in 2019. The NDP will need to decide if it is a party that wants to win, or a party that wants to be a permanent opposition.

If you have any questions about resisting your organization’s strategic plan in light of the election results, contact your Santis Health Lead.