Political column: OK Canada, what the heck just happened?

(Graphic by Alex Dascalu/AQ)

It was a long night on Oct. 21, after the polls closed and the results poured in. So, what were the results of the 43rd Canadian election? What have we, the voters, decided, and what does our decision mean? Let’s go through some of the notable results, and indeed the importance of what this election’s results mean for our country.

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals Party of Canada won a minority government with 157 seats out of 338 but lost the popular vote to the Conservative Party of Canada by a slim margin – the Liberals had 33 per cent and the Conservatives had 34.4 per cent.

The Liberals lost 29 seats across the country, mainly to the Bloc Québécois and the Conservative Party of Canada. They may have won, but they suffered some serious losses. Long-time Liberal MP and cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, who served with Justin’s father Pierre Trudeau, lost his seat in Regina, which turned out to be indicative of the Liberal results in Western Canada.

Overall, the Liberals lost seats in every province, and from the three territories. An indication of how the Liberal’s would do in Ontario came when Adam van Koeverden, an Olympic Gold Medalist rower, defeated Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt in Milton, ON. Ontario held more red seats than anyone expected, losing only one.

But there are two odd-defying results that did not go the Liberal’s way.

In Fredericton, where “Think Green, Vote Liberal” was the message from Matt Decourcey’s Liberal team, lots of talk and fear regarding vote splitting leading to a Conservative win in the riding was clearly off the mark. Jenica Atwin became the first female to win federally in Fredericton, the first Indigenous person elected in Fredericton federally and the first Green to win east of British Columbia. She will be the Fredericton riding’s Member of Parliament.

Another incredible result was found in the riding of Vancouver Granville, where former Liberal Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould retained her seat as an Independent. Wilson-Raybould was a key figure, if not the key figure in the SNC-Lavalin Scandal, when the PM inappropriately pressured Wilson-Raybould to treat the Quebec company differently in ongoing criminal judicial proceedings. She was ousted from cabinet and the party in the aftermath which is still playing out today.

Wilson-Raybould, a re-elected MP, will now be able to represent her riding without needing to tow the party line, which is arguably why she was kicked out of the Liberal Party. It’s worth noting that her colleague in Ontario, Jane Philpott, was not as fortunate, losing to a Liberal candidate. Wilson-Raybould gaining a seat in the house will ensure the topic of SNC Lavalin continues to be discussed in the coming Parliament.

Andrew Scheer led the Conservative Party of Canada to win the popular vote at 34.4 per cent but lost overall. The party gained 23 seats across the country, with several traditionally blue ridings returning in the Maritimes. Andrew Scheer hailed the result as a steppingstone to bringing down the Liberals. Scheer made this clear in his concession speech when he said, “Mr. Trudeau, when your government falls, Conservatives will be ready, and we will win.”

The Conservatives gained seats and won in terms of the popular vote, but what does this mean for our national unity? The Conservatives won every single seat in Alberta except for a single NDP win in Edmonton Strathcona, and they outright swept all the ridings in Saskatchewan. They also won many seats in southern Manitoba and in eastern BC. How Justin Trudeau will govern with no Liberals elected in Alberta or Saskatchewan, will be an important point for our country soon as tensions rise between the west and the rest.

The Bloc Québécois had their best result in over a decade, winning 32 seats in Quebec, up by 22 from the last Federal election. Their leader, Yves-François Blanchet won his seat, becoming the first Bloc leader to do so since Gilles Duceppe in 2008. Duceppe’s son, Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe won his seat as well. The Bloc’s resurgence in Quebec will surely lead to an amount of unrest in the House of Commons, as it does almost every time it brings a strong contingent to the national parliament it would rather not be a part of.

Jagmeet Singh did not see what some pundits predicted to be a “Singh Surge,” losing 18 seats overall, mostly in Quebec. Singh won his seat in Burnaby South however, and with the other 23 wining NDP seats, the NDP may still have a big part to play in the coming minority government if the Liberal’s really do want to press a progressive agenda. The NDP picked up one seat in Atlantic Canada, in St. John’s Newfoundland, where Jack Harris won the riding of St. John’s East for the NDP. They won nearly 16 per cent of the popular vote.

Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada had a mixed night of election results. While they felt jubilation in Fredericton, they felt utter disappointment in British Columbia. May won her riding for the third time, and the recent Green MP, Paul Manly, won his seat he recently earned in a by-election. While they have gained one seat, to a new total of three, the results were nowhere near what they wanted. The wave of green support they hoped to take out of the British Columbia Lower Mainland simply never grew to more than a small ripple.

An interesting takeaway from the Green Party result, however, is that they won 6.5 per cent of the popular vote and won three seats. Meanwhile, the Bloc won 7.7 per cent of the popular vote and won 32 – I can hear proponents of proportional representation screaming from here. But to them I say, look no further as to why Trudeau quickly abandoned that promise when you see how he faired in the popular vote mentioned earlier.

Now, while Rosemary Barton obliterated Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada on live national television on the CBC as the election results came in, saying he couldn’t even win his own riding let alone much more than one per cent of the vote nationwide and that this was possibly the end of the PPC, I’ll say one thing. The People’s Party felt how Canadians felt about their policies and rhetoric. Maxime Bernier lost his own seat by 10.2 per cent, or roughly 6,100 votes. On the national stage, they struggled to accumulate 1.6 per cent of the vote.

As the election has ended, and the results have now been finalized, we as Canadians must now face the most important problem that we currently have – how we unite the country after such a divisive result, and a nasty campaign. This minority government situation will give us a good hard look at the country for the foreseeable future.

If anything, this election has taught us one thing for sure, that your vote unequivocally matters. As we move on from this election, we must understand it is imperative that we respect each other, and our opinions, and hope this mutual respect can be transferred to the national stage. We need it to.