Election Post-mortem

The Liberals have been re-elected but with a minority, while Tories win popular vote but far fewer seats, so below is my take.  I will do a summary on each party, each region, and then end with final thoughts.

Liberals: If you want to talk about winning in all the right places, the Liberals pretty much pulled an insider straight thus despite getting only 33% of the popular vote, came within 13 seats of majority.  They did this by only slight losses in votes in Ontario and Quebec while their biggest drops were in Atlantic Canada and Prairies.  In former they won by 40 points in 2015 so they could drop 20 points and still only lose a handful of seats which is exactly what happened.  In Prairies they had few seats to begin with so losing a bunch of votes there brought down vote total not seat total.  Still the Liberals should take the rebuke seriously and not act like nothing happened.  As I will explain later, they had a good economy and weak opposition so their loss of a majority is not a good result, it shows a lot of dissatisfaction and had Tories had a better leader they might have lost outright.  As for how they govern, I hope the party governs on an issue by issue basis.  I especially think on the pipeline this is important to push through and get Tory backing as while Alberta and Saskatchewan are never an important part of their winning coalition, anger there is so strong we could have a national unity crisis if they play their cards wrong.  Also in Ontario, they did well due to unpopularity of Doug Ford, but if they last 3 to 4 years, Ford will either be gone or have rebounded if he is re-elected so that may not work.  After all people seem to have forgotten about Wynne and same could happen once Ford is gone too.

Conservatives: Back in 2016 or 2017 if you told me this was the result, I would have said this was a good one for the Tories, but that was when Trudeau was still fairly popular.  But after his major screwups, the fact they couldn’t beat him shows they performed poorly and Scheer needs to take some responsibility.  Yes they won the popular vote, but winning massively in Alberta and Saskatchewan while getting fewer votes in two largest provinces won’t cut it.  To win, you need support across the country, not piling up margins in your two strongest provinces.  The party needs to stop choosing leaders that appeal to their base as their base is not large enough to win and Canada is changing and continuing to pander to base may result in occasional wins when people fatigue of Liberals, but is not a long term strategy to success.  Liberals have moved far enough left that there is a strong opening slightly right of centre and that is where the party needs to move.  As such I am calling on Scheer to resign and do plan on rejoining the party to boot him out as leader.  He might win a plurality, but I don’t see a path to a majority with Scheer.  Canadians saw him and said thanks but no thanks.  Also Doug Ford needs to change direction and I cannot help but think if we had Michael Chong or Rona Ambrose as federal leader and Christine Elliott as premier of Ontario, results would have been much different.  Base needs to get it through their thick skulls, Canada is not a right wing country and continuously pushing candidates further right than most are comfortable with won’t work.  That doesn’t mean abandoning all conservative ideas, it simply means having a strong coherent story of why we need to do things differently and it means having someone more experienced and competent.  Scheer comes across as weak just as Ford comes across as a buffoon.  If you are going to make big changes, people want someone who they think knows what they are doing, not someone who seems weak.

NDP: Despite all the talk of Singh momentum, it ended up coming up short.  They lost a lot of seats in Quebec as expected, but even outside of Quebec, won fewer than in 2015.  I think big problem for NDP is a lot liked their ideas in theory, but seemed too pie in the sky as well as party leaned too heavily on millennials.  I think polls were right, but NDP underperformed and Tories over (at least in popular vote that is) due to demographics as with few exceptions, millennial turnout is always lower than older voters.  I think Singh can stay on, but people in the NDP need to realize while they may get a lot of leverage, Trudeau doesn’t have to give them anything.

Green Party: With only 6%, they clearly underperformed and weren’t even able to beat their best showing in 2008, but this seems common with Green Party.  Does well in polls but fails at ballot box.  My guess is also too heavily skewed towards younger voters, but probably many strategically vote too.  Nonetheless while a disappointment in seats, they did pick up one in Fredericton and Green gains recently in Europe and provincially show party under right conditions can do well, but support is very soft.  With Elizabeth May being 65, probably best to chose a new leader, but alright if she stays on, but next election should be her last.

Bloc Quebecois: If there was one party who should be happy about last night, it is the BQ.  Coming back from dead and gaining a lot in Quebec is definitely a good showing although I think many are misreading this.  Most BQ voters are CAQ provincially, not PQ so this is not a resurrection in Quebec separatism, rather many Quebecers like Canadians elsewhere thought the choices were awful and so parked their vote with BQ never mind with Francois Legault being very popular in Quebec, many wanted to vote for a party that would work to push the same agenda federally and stop any federal party from undermining it.

People’s Party: At 1.6%, zero seats and only in Bernier’s riding getting their deposit back, I think party showed what a joke it was.  Far right may be loud and noisy on twitter but they are small in numbers.  Their maybe a place to gain in other countries but not here.  Anyways the thumping of his party is good news for Canada and despite his claims, the party is more or less dead.

Atlantic Canada: After the Liberal sweep in 2015, I think pretty much everyone including every Liberal I talked to expected the party to lose some seats and that indeed happened.  Liberals saw a big drop in vote, but managed to win almost all the close races so 26 seats was a good showing, but with the close races breaking for them, it wouldn’t take that big a shift to lose another 10 seats.  Tories gained, but at 29%, while a lot better than 2015, still a poor showing.  Interestingly enough they did surprisingly well in Rural Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island so I wonder if traditional Liberal areas with high unemployment are areas they have potential as people in those areas most likely to be frustrated at government.  Also despite only winning 4 seats, they were leading in 9 at one point so a small gain in popular vote could flip a whole whack of seats.  Biggest surprise was the Tories won West Nova as I figured if they gained anything in Nova Scotia, it would be Cumberland-Colchester and Central Nova, not West Nova.  But they had a popular former MLA so shows how much of a difference candidate can make.  NDP made some gains but still pretty weak while Greens did quite well in votes and even won a seat.  I think though Green gains were less an endorsement of Greens and more many in Atlantic Canada tired of two main parties.

Quebec: BQ wave was real, but Liberals still narrowly won popular vote and seats but certainly their strategy of gaining in Quebec to offset losses elsewhere failed and in fact had BQ not surged, we would likely be talking about a Liberal majority.  Tories missed an opportunity to gain here, but despite Scheer’s poor performance in French, he still managed to win 10 seats and the Quebec City region where Harper built up support stuck with the Tories suggesting they have a solid base there, but need to find a way to expand beyond that which they have yet to do.  NDP dropped to only 1 seat which was no surprise.  Interestingly enough, East end of Montreal went mostly Liberal so this suggests to me BQ support is different than in 90s as it looks like they picking up CAQ voters, but Quebec Solidaire supporters going NDP or Liberal.

Ontario: By and large a repeat of 2015 with a few minor changes.  Biggest news was Lisa Raitt going down in defeat and in fact the two ridings the Tories lost (Milton and Kitchener-Conestoga and almost lost Flamborough-Glanbrook) are all ridings that were fairly rural a decade ago, but becoming more suburban as new subdivisions are being built.  The few pick ups the Tories had were almost all rural ridings, so rural Ontario is solidly Tory, but the suburbs which they needed to win went solidly Liberal, even by bigger margins than in 2015.  This shows the Tory strategy is failing since if you cannot compete in 905 belt, cannot form government.  Also Ford is very unpopular and his government should take this as a warning that if they don’t change course, same thing will happen to them in 2022.  Tories still can win Ontario and this was not an endorsement of Trudeau, but in many ways for a lot of Ontario voters it was who do you hate more: Justin Trudeau or Doug Ford.  And in the urban and suburban areas, the answer was clearly Doug Ford.  Ontario is by and large a centrist province and if Tories move back to the centre they have a bright future here, but continue to pander to base and will continue to remain a rural rump.  Right wing politicians like Mike Harris in 1995 and 1999, Harper in 2011, and Ford in 2018 occasionally win, but only when people are so fed up with Liberals they will vote Tory no matter what, but it is not a long term strategy to success here.

Saskatchewan/Manitoba: Both provinces swung heavily towards Tories particularly Saskatchewan where Tories had clean sweep and even knocked off Ralph Goodale.  No doubt anger is strong here, especially in Saskatchewan and while this may be becoming a Tory stronghold, Trudeau would be wise to not dismiss public anger here.  Likewise Tories doing well here is not proof Scheer resonating, people were just so angry at Liberals that no matter who was Tory leader, they would win big here.  Outside Prairies anger at Liberals existed, but not at breaking point thus why many were still willing to hold their nose and vote for them if they disliked Scheer whereas here people were pretty much willing to vote Tory no matter what.

Alberta: With the exception of Edmonton-Strathcona, it was a near sweep and all Liberals lost.  Also the blowouts were massive and this is exactly why Tories won popular vote but not most seats.  Obviously Trudeau needs to take the anger here seriously, but likewise Tories need to find a way to stay strong here, but appeal elsewhere.  If Liberal vote was very efficient, Tory vote was very inefficient and this is why.

British Columbia: It was a mixed bag for parties here.  Tories gained votes and seats, but at only 34%, that may be better than in 2015, but still a rather poor showing for BC.  Interior swung heavily behind them, but gains in Lower Mainland unlike 905 belt only happened due to stronger splits on left.  Indeed, Tories only got 0.9% more in BC than Ontario, but big difference was better vote splits.  I think in the coastal areas where most live, big problem was weak plan on the environment.  As I’ve explained elsewhere, supporting a revenue neutral carbon tax is a conservative idea and I think the result here should be a warning sign to start taking the environment more seriously.  Liberals lost a lot of votes in BC, but like nationally in all the right places.  Biggest declines came outside of the Lower Mainland where they only held two seats to begin with while drop in Lower Mainland much smaller thus why they still did okay in seats.  NDP also lost ground here despite all the talk of Singh surge and probably due to weaker turnout amongst millennials.  Likewise Greens also failed to make headway.  Probably the best news out of BC, was Jody Wilson-Reyboud winning her seat.  Had I lived in her riding, she would have got my vote (I live in Vancouver Centre).

Territories: With so little attention focused on them, had no idea what would happen.  Liberals easily held Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory they barely held with Tories almost winning there, while Nunavut went NDP.  With almost no news on north, no idea the reasons, but if anybody knows I would love to hear.

Final Thoughts: With Trudeau being wounded but still a solid minority, I really hope he governs on an issue by issue basis.  Also with Tories gaining but NDP losing, I don’t believe moving further to the left is the right idea, but probably will happen although not as bad as it would have been had Tories won a plurality and they needed NDP to stay on top.  Government should last at least 2 years and maybe even 3 years.  I think the anger in Alberta and Saskatchewan is real and could metastasize into a separatist movement so its important Trudeau put national interest ahead of party and even if he cannot win many seats here and he takes note of the anger.  Likewise BQ gain should also be a warning to stay out of areas in provincial jurisdiction which Liberals have a tendency to do all too often.  For Tories, Scheer needs to go.  Party got rejected in 2015 and still thinks Harper approach will work forgetting times are changing.  Concerns about a rapidly changing economy and climate change are ones that could have been ignored a decade ago but not anymore.  Likewise millennials are largest demographic so with every generation party must adjust.  I still believe party should favour lower taxes and a balanced budget, but they need a more competent leader and also on tax cuts, I would favour balance the budget first, then cut taxes and call a full tax review and work from there instead of just promising more Harper era tax credits.  On climate change, the era of dodging is over.  A revenue neutral carbon tax may anger the base, but it is a conservative idea to deal with climate change.  Also in BC, Gordon Campbell did this and it didn’t blow apart the BC Liberal coalition so while base may not like it, they will vote for them anyways and it is swing voters they need.  Also next leader must be pro-choice and march in Gay pride parades.  Promising to not legislate on abortion and gay marriage not good enough; social conservatism is dead and its time it gets buried in its well deserved grave.  People want a party looking to the future not past.  In terms of next leader, I would say Rona Ambrose, Peter MacKay, John Baird, James Moore, Michael Chong, and Erin O’Toole are ones we should look towards.  Also perhaps maybe some of the Quebec MPs could do well in Quebec.  Liberals have moved enough to the left so lots of space to move closer to the centre to appeal to Red Tories and Blue Liberals.  The base is loud, but is a declining demographic and the future for the party will be winning over Red Tories and Blue Liberals not their base.  Winning the popular vote is not good enough for Scheer as that only happened due to massive margins in Alberta and Saskatchewan, not large national support.  Excluding Prairies and Quebec, Tories got between 26-34% in all other provinces showing they have a strong base, but aren’t outside Prairies winning over swing voters and in Prairies the votes they gained are more anti-Liberal than pro-Conservative.

10 thoughts on “Election Post-mortem

  1. I predicted this result from a mile away and the advanced voting turnout data backed it up. Turnout compared to 2015 in the advanced polls increased to much in areas that the tories did not need to win like AB and SK. I knew since the campaign started that the tories would be most energized in AB and SK to get rid of the liberals while the other provinces were not as energized to get rid of the Liberals. As a result the consevatives ended up running the table in AB and SK while doing meh or terrible elsewhere which resulted in their vote being way to inefficient last night

    In terms of ontario I knew they liberals were going to win at minimum by 8 points even though I never expected the liberals to destroy the conservatives and the NDP as badly as they did in the 416, 905, Hamilton and Niagara and to a lesser extent SouthCentral ontario.That milton result really shocked me because I expected lisa raitt to barely lose milton instead of losing it by over 15 percent.

    I was bang on in quebec even though the Liberal vote was way more efficient than I expected it to be in Quebec. At least Yves Francois Blachet is happy that he does get to hold the balance of power now because he never wanted to hold it in the first place. He can rest easy knowing that he reversed the bloc’s fortunes for now and that he can stay on as their leader for the next few years.

    The Liberals did about as well as I expected them to do in Atlantic Canada even though they did lose kings hant in Nova Scotia and almost lost Sydney Victoria because of a huge amount of vote spiltting in that riding.

    The NDP did meh even though BC is almost half of the caucus now.I never expected them to win Nunuvut. The NDP has now been marginalized in Essex county and they really need to figure out how to win back both Essex and Windsor Tecumseh in Ontario. They also barely avoided a wipeout in Quebec and did terrible in Atlantic Canada despite winning back St John’s East. They also lost all of their seats in saskatchewan by large margins.

    At this point scheer should resign as CPC leader. He failed competely to appeal to the general electorate despite Trudeau’s missteps and his approval rating is now worse at the end of the campaign than they were at the start of the campaign. I don’t think he will leave without a fight sadly because he won the popular vote despite running a disasterous election campaign.

    Anyway I do think it might take another 8 years unless trudeau completely fails in the next 3-4 years for the conservatives to form government again. Trudeau will probably recover a bit in the next few years and it’s going to take time for the next leader of the CPC to appeal to Canadians and for the conservatives to develop policies that appeal to Canadians.


    1. I wasn’t exactly sure on the results but reasonably close to my projections. Don’t know it will take 8 years for Tories to comeback but could. Depends on how Trudeau governs and I expect his approval to fall further but Tories do need to get rid of Scheer.


      1. I remember predicting like 159 for the LPC and 118 for the CPC. I always thought the liberals would win between 155 and 165 seats during the entire campaign Hopefully scheer leaves without a fight and lets the conservatives move in a new direction. Might take awhile for the next CPC leader to introduce themselves to the general public and for the CPC to develop policies that could appeal to the general electorate. Trudeau might have a better second term as long as he does not shoot himself in the foot again.He might follow in his father’s footsteps in the near future.


        1. He might but everything I’ve seen of him says opposite. He doesn’t have the smarts or political antennae his father did. Quite stubborn actually. I think best Tories can hope for is election is held after next Ontario and hope Ford loses or if he wins means he’s recovered as I think Ford is a big reason party fell flat in Ontario. Had Christine Elliott been premier, I think party would have done better although probably still finished behind Liberals but not by as much. Also if they can get someone who can speak better French could work wonders in Quebec. Likewise stronger environmental platform would help in BC while for Atlantic Canada get someone with PC not Reform roots.


  2. Agree,obviously,about Scheer but,judging from his combative tone last night,he has no intention of going quietly into that good night. Opens up the possibility of a nasty and divisive internal fight. A fight Tories will have to wage,as he will never win power. But nasty,nonetheless.
    As for Singh, I’m not quite as critical of him as you are. Yes,the NDP dropped to 24 seats. But,prior to the campaign,this was a party heading for the political boneyard and a single digit seat finish. I think his debate and campaign performance brought them back from the dead,at least to some extent.
    As for the Greens,they improved their vote total but it was hardly a breakthrough. Three seats is still only three seats. The Greens may need to examine their continued relevancy


    1. I agree it could get nasty, but NDP and BQ in no hurry to bring down government as they are broke financially so need to build up their funds. Tories have lots of potential, but Scheer is not one. He may be combative but lets see how caucus reacts as I’ve seen indicators caucus outside Prairies wants him gone. He may get a plurality next time if Trudeau has more trouble but cannot see him ever winning a majority. Whether base will understand they need to change or not as another question. Only good news is all frontrunners or likely replacements are better. In some ways losing Bernier was a blessing as he would be favourite if he stayed in party and probably would have lost them seats next time.

      On NDP, they made a strong comeback but still I think their vote is too heavily tied to woke millennials and need to broaden beyond that. Now if they can use their leverage to pass something like say pharmacare may work in their favour next time.


      1. Trudeau has an opportunity to show that he does have some of his father’s political instincts during the coming 2+ years. There are a lot of difficult problems facing him. Sometimes that ‘can’ be an opportunity to show leadership. The question is – will he? His wounds in his first term were pretty much self-inflicted. If he does this in his second term, he won’t survive to win a third.
        As for Scheer, he has his own problems. Do the Conservatives still have an automatic leadership review after each election? If so, I agree – he almost certainly won’t survive it


        1. There is an automatic leadership review next April. I will be rejoining party and voting to dump him as leader. Trudeau is very vulnerable, but party has to moderate and move beyond its base. There is a huge open space on political spectrum in terms of Blue Liberals and Red Tories but with Scheer I don’t see him easily winning those over.


  3. Call me a pessimist, but I wonder IF the divisions can be sewn together at all? If anything, the two sides on many issues have moved farther and farther apart. For example, a “revenue neutral” carbon tax would likely have next to no support. It would be radioactive among the base (most think taxes are bad period, while the vast majority are skeptical at best of climate change – look how awful that Patrick Brown and Michael Chong did among party supporters with their positions), while the progressives who dominate urban ridings would hate the tax cuts and want the money going to their desire for 100% renewable energy, transit and other green infrastructure. That looks like a position that could break the party in my mind (not to mention telling social conservatives to go away? That would also be a party-breaker even if they are nowhere near a majority among the whole electorate).

    I noticed a couple things looking at maps. In rural Canada, the Liberal vote pretty much collapsed (not just in Alberta and Saskatchewan). Even in rural Ontario, almost none of the seats were close, and the Conservatives with only modest gains (or splits) could have actually won quite a number of seats in Atlantic Canada which they were annihilated in 2015 and even did poorly in 2011. Yet outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Liberals either held their own or (in the GTA especially) improved from 2015 in the major cities. In the GTA, only a handful of seats – mostly in York Region – were even close, with most being won by the Liberals by 20, 30, 40 points or more. In other provinces, that dynamic was seen too: in Manitoba for example, the Liberal vote only decreased slightly in Winnipeg (mostly to the NDP; the two seats the Conservatives gained were mixed urban-rural) yet the Conservatives got Alberta-like numbers outside the city improving greatly on 2011. In British Columbia, the Interior and North saw the Conservatives go from narrow wins to annihilation, while the Liberal vote held up well in the Lower Mainland.

    I think the NDP is at a “squeeze point” since the Liberals largely have their agenda too. They have to decide whether they want to go back to being the party of the working class (a lot of those seats the Conservatives came close in, if not took, this time but it would leave the Liberals wide open in the urban core seats) or the social justice warrior (which would help them outflank the Liberals from the left in the cities, but probably cost them seats in places like Windsor, northern Ontario, northern BC, the Territories and other working class areas, most likely to the Conservatives – they actually made gains numerically, if not in seats, in all those areas too).

    I know pollsters have looked at one factor that got little attention: the education gap. Since 2015 (and especially since 2011), the Liberals have taken a commanding lead among university-educated voters and it seemed to show up in the results as the most educated ridings outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan all went Liberal, mostly by an extremely wide margin, and that probably explains why the Liberals did better than in 2015 in the GTA and held their own or improved some in other major cities. Yet the Conservatives had a solid lead nationwide among those with a community college diploma or a high school diploma, which are predominant outside of the major metro areas. In Quebec (outside of the Quebec City region), the Bloc seemed to dominate among those without a degree, while the Liberals had the same result as elsewhere for those who did.


    1. Interesting analysis. I still think a revenue neutral carbon tax has a future. BC Liberals take that position and have stayed united and not tanked. I think actually there is a strong desire for a centrist party its just those most active in all parties tend to be furthest from centre. Many areas that went massively for Doug Ford a year ago in GTA went solidly Liberal so that suggests to me much of the population in those ridings falls somewhere in between the two parties in ideology and is unhappy with both.


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