Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a “snap election” last month, rolling the dice on being able to achieve a parliamentary majority for his Liberal Party.
It didn’t happen. A Globe and Mail writer called the election a “mean, shallow, silly, pointless affair.” Indeed it was. While the final results won’t be known for several days, as it stands now Trudeau failed to gain more than one or two seats in Parliament. The Liberals may end up with as many as 156 seats, falling far short of the 170 needed for a majority. They began the election with 155 seats.
Actually, Trudeau was not in any danger of losing his prime ministership. The Conservative Party may have gained two seats, up from 119 with no chance of upending the Liberals.
The election did not improve the mood of Canadians. One columnist referred to the campaign as “a bad mood looking for a place to land.” The election contest was marred by anti-vaccine protests, and there were incidents where protesters screamed vulgarities at Trudeau and his family.
Trudeau tried putting lipstick on the pig by referring to his election “mandate.”
Speaking to hundreds of supporters gathered at a hotel in downtown Montreal, the prime minister said that voters had given him a “clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic and to the brighter days ahead.”
“There are still votes to be counted, but what we’ve seen tonight is that millions of Canadians have chosen a progressive plan,” he said shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday. “Some have talked about division, but that’s not what I see.”
Trudeau badly miscalculated the mood of Canadians. More than two years out from the next scheduled election, Trudea gambled that the lackluster Conservative Party, suffering from a lack of effective leadership, would be seen as an obstacle to Trudeau’s grand plans for a pandemic comeback and the Liberals would be given a governing majority.
Instead, another wave of the coronavirus hit Canada and voters questioned Trudeau’s judgment.
He held a comfortable lead over O’Toole, 48, when he called the snap vote last month — two years before the next fixed election date under Canadian law — betting that his pandemic response would deliver him a majority.
But Trudeau misjudged the public appetite for a vote and ran a lackluster campaign. His rivals criticized him for calling an election during Canada’s fourth pandemic wave; at a campaign stop in Ontario last week, O’Toole called the decision “vain, risky and selfish.” Voters appeared to agree, viewing it as a power grab.
The Conservatives were never really in it after their leader, Erin O’Toole, abandoned several pledges he made to get the leadership post — including one that would have repealed Trudeau’s assault weapons ban. His move to the middle lost him some critical support and didn’t gain him much.
It was unclear why Trudeau wanted an election now. He said he needed a big mandate to push his pandemic relief programs through parliament. In truth, the Conservatives weren’t putting many roadblocks in his way to doing that. The prime minister’s stimulus measures passed relatively easily.
The French-speaking Quebec bloc may have lost one seat — a disappointment for a party with lofty ambitions of having a larger role on the national stage. They finished third overall.