In recent Canadian history, many saw the election of successive minority federal governments as an effective tool to manage the nation’s affairs.
No single party gained absolute control to set Canada’s course for a four-year period and federal politicians weighed both statements and action against likely public response. After all, they would more than likely be knocking on doors within a two-year window and once again pitching themselves and their parties to voters.
That was the case in 2004, as the Liberals, then under the leadership of Paul Martin and still suffering the effects of the sponsorship scandal, were reduced to minority government status following a triplicate of majority government victories under Jean Chretien in 1993, 1997 and 2000.
National elections in 2006 and 2008 saw the Conservatives under Stephen Harper overtake the Liberals, yet manage only minority government victories before breaking through to a significant majority in 2011, only to be overturned by Justin Trudeau and the Liberals in 2015.
So here we are, just days away from the 2019 vote on Oct. 21, and signposts appear to suggest a return to minority government is entirely possible. The question, though, is under which party, or combinations of parties.
If the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer score more seats than the Liberals under Trudeau, will the NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Greens agree to prop up Trudeau in a coalition government if the Liberals were to devise a plan to delay the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion indefinitely?
Any such move, particularly after the Trudeau government parted with $4.5 billion to purchase TMX, would result in heightened national public cynicism and a downright rebellious mindset in much of Western Canada.
Power, though, is intoxicating, and Trudeau appears to regularly blow over any accepted measure on that score.
It would be politically dangerous for Jagmeet Singh’s NDP and Elizabeth May’s Greens to couple their wagons to the Liberals. The Conservatives would insistently portray the arrangement as the unprincipled dating the disingenuous.
For a resurgent Bloc Quebecois, linking with Trudeau’s Liberals on pipelines and energy may position them as well.
Should Trudeau and the Liberals score enough seats to form a minority government, we will be revisiting a federal election within the usual 24-month lifespan of a minority government — and likely with new leaders for both the LPC and CPC.