Canada Goes to the Polls

With Trudeau’s Liberals leaving the General Election with a minority government, the Conservatives with a dim future, and the Bloc Quebecois back in action with more than double the number of seats than previously held, Canada’s next parliamentary term will be a large unknown.

The Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, Greens, and the People’s Party of Canada – all parties that have ballot access that sought seats in Ottawa, Canada’s Capital. With only forty days to campaign, the beginning and the end of this period are very different. 170 seats are required to form a majority government. Don’t worry if you have no clue about Canadian Federal politics; all will be explained.

Justin Trudeau, of the Papineau Riding in Montreal, is the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. As a centre-left/ centre party, they enjoy policies that are similar to that of the Democrats here in the US. Since the 2015 General Election, the Liberals have had sweeping successes with a reformed Party Platform. However, one major setback for the party is not coming through with Electoral Reform. One of the major 2015 promises the Liberals made was reforming the electoral system to make it more proportional. Unfortunately, nothing came of this and the 2019 Election paid the price with a nonrepresentational outlook of seats in Parliament. 157 Seats Acquired

Andrew Scheer, of the Regina-Qu’Appelle riding in Saskatchewan, is the leader for the Conservative Party of Canada. The Conservatives are centre-right and enjoy a more left set of values compared to their US counterparts, the Republican Party. Since 2015 when Trudeau’s Liberal party took back the House majority, the conservatives have lost their sight. While they have a consistent and strong base, outreach and upgrading their policies to appeal to the new young voters is an issue that remains unsolved.

121 Seats Acquired

Yves-François Blanchet, of the Beloeil-Chambly Riding in Quebec, is the leader for the Bloc Quebecois. A unique party in that they only run candidates in Quebec. Their ideology is also unique: Quebecois nationalism. The purpose of the party is to represent Quebec interests, which tend to be centre-left. Quebec has a very different culture and people compared to the rest of Canada. Separatist movements and violence from an IRA-style group called the FLQ (Quebec Liberation Front) have left stains on Quebec’s past. Multiple referendums on secession have occurred with the latest one in 1995 came within 0.6% of passing. 32 Seats Acquired

The three last parties are by order of national vote ranking:

  • The New Democratic Party (NDP)

Analogically, If the Liberals are the establishment Democrats in the US, the NDP are the Democratic Socialists – Bernie Sanders and “The Squad”. With Sikh leader Jagmeet Singh, the NDP’s leader, the NDP saw a restructuring of the party in relation to the Liberals. The NDP underperformed for this election, however. They often vote alongside the Liberals and their leader Jagmeet Singh has said they would form a coalition with the Liberals which would get them over the magical 170 seats. 24 Seats Acquired

  • The Greens

With leader Elizabeth May, the Greens follow normal Green ideology: grassroots democracy, emphasis on environmentalism, and social justice among other left-wing ideas. 3 Seats Acquired

  • The People’s Party of Canada (PPC)

A brand new party, headed by Maxime Bernier, the once Conservative MP jumped ship after the Conservatives veered leftward in order to appeal for Climate Change. The PPC enjoys values such as small government, economic conservatism, and light social conservatism with an emphasis on anti-immigration. 0 Seats Acquired

As a Federal Constitutional Parliamentary Monarchy (that’s a mouthful), Canada is governed by a parliament that has ministers from political subdivisions – Provinces and Territories – that have defined power and rights. Canada is governed at the highest level – technically – by the throne in England: Queen Elizabeth II; however the British Governor of Canada does little more than ceremonial duties. Their lower house of parliament, the House of Commons, is elected through First Past the Post in “Ridings” – in the US, the term would be the same as a Congressional District.

A lasting theme for the night, a possible reason for the results, is the frustration with electoral reform. CBC, from where this writer watched the election, often had their pundits complain about the lack of Proportional Representation. One of Justin Trudeau’s original campaign promises during his 2015 Parliament run was for electoral reform. Unfortunately, the committee that headed that did not recommend any change to the electoral system already being used, First Past the Post, and Trudeau followed their answer.

If you want to see more, click here to go to the CBC ‘s (Canada’s Public Broadcasting Corporation) official results. All results from this article were found on CBC or either on their live broadcast of the election.

Boris Johnson elected UK Prime Minister

Boris Johnson was announced to become the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom yesterday. The former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London was voted on by 66% of the small electorate that attended the Conservative Party Leadership ballot.

Johnson takes office following former Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation after her failure to secure a Brexit deal. Her resignation announcement didn’t trigger a nation-wide vote, but rather a vote amongst party members to pick their new leader- who would then become the de-facto Prime Minister. Theresa May, despite displaying impressive stamina in the face of insurmountable political challenge, announced her impending retirement May 24th

The vote was carried out by only attending members of the Conservative Party, meaning that this vote amongst just under 160,000 people will have ramifications for the island nation of 66 million. Johnson edged out current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt 92,153 votes to 46,656.

The vote has been received by many as a rebuke of the tempered, emotionless approach former PM May took towards the Brexit negotiations. Boris Johnson is famously bombastic, articulate, and at times, bellicose. It is because of this that the bleach-blonde haired future MP has drawn many comparisons to US President Donald Trump. Following Johnson’s victory on Tuesday, Trump posted a congratulatory tweet, saying Johnson would “do great.”

Boris Johnson will take over the office facing immediate scrutiny, both over his lack of a public mandate, as well as his at times abrasive behavior. It is hoped that his firebrand ways will push a Brexit deal forward, however, he has stated that by October 31st, the UK will leave the European Union with or without a deal. 

Questions remain about whether or not the new Prime Minister will have much of a government to work with: several Conservative MP’s have declared that they will resign when Johnson takes power, including Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan, the UK Skills and Work minister, the Secretary of State for Internal Development, the Justice Chancellor, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a position usually seen as being in the direct line for the Premiership.

Johnson’s leadership opens up one possibility these MP’s are seeking to avoid: a No-Deal Brexit. MP’s and other government officials warn that the UK could be headed for economic and diplomatic chaos should the United Kingdom leave with no deal.

The UK’s membership in the European Union intertwined a myriad of the UK’s government with the EU, making disentanglement difficult. This is because many fundamental aspects of the UK government, trade, taxes, regulations, and immigration policies, have become deeply enmeshed with the European Union. To this point, the UK’s biggest struggle is negotiating out a new trade deal with the EU. Boris Johnson’s premiership also opens up the option for his foreign trade policy to be in line with that of President Trump – a consistent supporter of selective, at times predatory trade policies.

More concerningly is the transition of power in a time where the United Kingdom and Iran are embattled over an Iranian seizure of a British Oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last week. Iran has reached out to Johnson, saying they don’t want confrontation, but they will protect their borders, including their territory out at sea. Critics have been troubled by the potentiality of Johnson’s rise, saying his record on international relations has been weak and limited. Historically, Johnson has been a leader on the homefront; time will tell if he is well equipped enough to tackle these foreign diplomacy challenges.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters and detractors alike in front of 10 Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister, Johnson claimed that he would create for the United Kingdom, “A new deal, a better deal” in relation to the European Union. Alongside remarks regarding Brexit, he promised increased funding for the British National Health Service, building plans for twenty new hospitals, as well as subsidies for the British agricultural sector, amongst a series of other domestic policies.

Facing both the Iranian crisis as well as Brexit – it’s quite possible to say that Boris Johnson faces the most immediate and pressing challenges by any Prime Minister since Winston Churchill. Time will tell if the future Prime Minister’s firebrand attitude and abrasive oratory will come to the benefit of the British people, or if it will bring them into the new decade an international pariah, as new leaders can so often do to once bright nations.