Daniel Béland: what a minority government means for Canada

Arts student, Laura Clow, explored what a minority government means for Canada with the help of Daniel Béland, Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

As you have hopefully heard by now, the Liberal Party won the 2019 Federal election, meaning that Justin Trudeau will be our Prime Minister for another term. However, due to scandal and broken promises, the Liberal Party was unable to ascertain 170 seats, resulting in the party being reduced to a minority government. With a minority government comes a lot more pressure on the Liberals, and more specifically Prime Minister Trudeau, to make alliances with other parties. In order to pass a desired legislation, the motivations behind doing so will have to be made largely transparent. The obvious choice for Liberals to form such an alliance with would be the New Democrat Party, as the two share much of the same underlying values. It is because of this sort of pressure that minority governments tend to last two years, or even less.

Professor Daniel Béland says that this particular minority government is quite strong, due to the fact that the Liberals are only short 13 seats. This means that an alliance with the NDP is enough to pass bills and legislature and the Liberals are not cornered into allying with Bloc Quebecois as well. In fact, the Liberals have a lot of leeway when it comes to partnering with other parties. On issues like the pipeline, for example, they can side with the Conservatives. For other issues that are more left-sided, Trudeau can side with Bloc Quebecois or the NDP. Likewise, in order for Trudeau’s government to be disbanded, the Conservative Party, NDP, and the Bloc Quebecois would all have to band together, and the likelihood of this happening is very slim. All this said, it is very likely that Trudeau will be in office for another two years or perhaps more.

One hot topic on this year’s election was that the Bloc Quebecois won a whopping 32 seats, 22 more than the 2015 election. Conversely, the NDP lost a total of 13 of its previous 14 seats in Quebec, which accounted for some of the Bloc’s winnings. Despite the initial shock from this, the Bloc still do not hold the balance of power. As mentioned before, the Liberals will have enough votes in the House of Commons should they choose to side with NDP on most issues in parliament; they will not have to rely on the Bloc Quebecois for anything. With this in mind, it will definitely be interesting to see how the Bloc will play their role in parliament.

In the end, we can only predict so much and the following few years will certainly be intriguing to behold. Likewise, make sure to always stay informed on political decisions being made so that you can be aware of legislation that may affect you!

For more on Daniel Beland' reflections on the 2019 federal election:

Back to top