The election no one wanted
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/10/2021 (580 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the electoral process — the polling staff, volunteers, candidates and especially to everyone who took time to vote. It is an honour to serve once again as the MP for Elmwood-Transcona.
It is no secret that no one wanted this year’s federal election but Justin Trudeau.
There were many reasons not to have an election when we did. I am proud to have led the charge in parliament to adapt our election rules for the pandemic. I shared people’s frustration that Justin Trudeau decided to move ahead before that work was done.
Now we have to ask why a Prime Minister was both willing and able to call such an ill-advised election when it was clear an overwhelming majority of Canadians opposed it.
By law, the next election should have been in October 2023, unless the Prime Minister lost the confidence of the House. Usually, that means losing a major vote in the House of Commons, like a budget vote, but historically the Prime Minister can decide he has lost the confidence of the House without a vote.
This is because the monarchy has an ancient right to convene, prorogue and dissolve parliaments as it sees fit. Over time, the Governor General could do this only on the advice of the Prime Minister. So, while it is technically a right of the Crown, protected by the constitution, it is essentially a power of the Prime Minister.
According to experts, that means a constitutional amendment would be required to limit this power and enforce fixed election dates, so there is no penalty for breaking the fixed election date law. That is how the Prime Minister was able to call the election.
But why did he want to call an election when no one else wanted it?
In Canada’s electoral system, political parties can form a majority government with less than 40 per cent of the vote and get 100 per cent of the power.
In our voting system, a small bump in the polls can mean a lot of extra seats. Leaders are incentivized by that system to call early elections so they can steal a majority. Then they can do what they want without having to negotiate with others.
Canadians thwarted Justin Trudeau’s cynical power grab in this past election; an outcome for which I am both grateful and proud. The next step is to change our voting system so that future Prime Ministers are not encouraged to choose needless elections over the hard work of forging a majority consensus in Parliament.
Elmwood-Transcona constituency report
Daniel Blaikie is the NDP MP for Elmwood-Transcona.