Analysis: Minority Parliament

Canadians will now be governed by a minority Liberal government as a result of the general election on October 21, 2019. The last time Canada was in this situation was between 2008 and 2011, when former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his second minority mandate.

Because Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party didn’t win the 170 seats required to form a majority government, they will need the help of other parties to accomplish their legislative agenda. The government will need this support on either an ad-hoc basis, as Harper did in his minority governments, or join in a formal coalition agreement. Trudeau has stated he will not enter into a coalition agreement with any other parties.

The Liberal government will likely find support from the NDP but could rely on the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party. However, none of those parties support the Trans Mountain Expansion Project or any further pipeline development, which puts Alberta in a precarious position moving forward.

Voters elected a larger Official Opposition, sending 121 Conservative Party candidates to serve as Members of Parliament. This means strong representation for Western Canada, and more opportunity to influence the government’s priorities concerning Alberta and our natural resource industry.

Conservative members will also have more influence on Parliamentary Committees, which work in tandem with the House of Commons, but examine selected matters in smaller groups with greater detail. For the past four years, the Liberal government had more members and controlled these committees. As a result, we witnessed them shutting down a push for inquiries into the SNC-Lavalin Affair and China relations. Now that the opposition parties will have more members, it will be harder for the government to shut down discourse into sensitive issues like these.

Minority governments do not tend to last as long as majority governments, which are automatically given a four-year mandate. On average, minority governments last for two years before a new general election is called.

Canada’s 43rd Parliament is composed of the following seats:

Liberal Party: 157
Conservative Party: 121
Bloc Québécois: 32
New Democratic Party: 24
Green Party: 3
Independent: 1