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Coalition and minority government: What strategists say their party would do

WATCH ABOVE: Minority governments and leadership questions

With just a day left on the campaign trail, all of the six federal party leaders are racing to lock in as much of the vote as they possibly can.

Polling shows the results of Monday’s election resting on a knife’s edge, suggesting that Canadians would most likely elect a minority government.

READ MORE: Coalition government: What is it, and where does each party stand?

The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson sat down with a panel of election strategists to discuss what could happen if their party doesn’t get the result they’re fighting for — the chance to form a majority government.

Over the course of the last week, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh did not shut the door on the possibility of banding together to form a coalition. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on the other hand, dodged multiple questions of a possible Liberal-NDP alliance, neither closing nor opening the door to such a possibility.

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What is the difference between majority, minority and a coalition government?
What is the difference between majority, minority and a coalition government?
“Certainly our voters are not looking for us to do anything significant with the Conservatives, and he [Singh] has said that he is open to all sorts of other alternatives and working with other parties, but he has also been very clear that he is running to be prime minister,” said NDP Strategist Anne McGrath.

The speculation of a possible federal coalition government came about after Singh’s comments during a campaign event last week, suggesting that he would not close the door on such an alliance. Singh in particular has remained unrelenting in his conviction to doing “whatever it takes” to keep Conservatives from taking power.

“We’re running to be a government, and whatever shape Parliament takes, whether it’s a minority or any other kind of arrangements, or a majority, we will work with other parties to get the things that we have identified as the urgent priorities that Canadians need in areas like pharmacare, housing, climate change,” said McGrath.

Federal coalition government explainer
Federal coalition government explainer

Asked about whether or not there were discussions of a potential partnership with the NDP or Greens, Liberal strategist Richard Mahoney said there weren’t any conversations in place for that outcome as of now, but that parties would have to look at several options should a Conservative minority be elected.

Should the Liberals win the most seats Monday night, Mahoney said Trudeau would have to make the decision of whether to form a minority government, or a majority government with other party support.

“If they do have a minority then I think all the parties are going to have to figure [out] how they win the support and confidence of the House and [become] able to govern,” said Mahoney.

READ MORE: Should party with most seats get first crack at forming government? Here’s how minorities work

If Trudeau’s Liberal government was to be defeated by a Conservative minority, it would only be the third time in Canadian history that a majority government would be defeated after the first term.

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that he won’t be looking for support from any other party should they fall short of winning any sort of majority of seats come Monday. Conservative strategist Fred DeLorey reiterated the position, remaining optimistic in whatever outcome the Tories obtain at the polls.

Scheer warns voters against idea of Liberal-NDP coalition
Scheer warns voters against idea of Liberal-NDP coalition

“Well, I think if you look at the history of this country, some of the most successful governments we’ve had were Conservative minority governments, and most recently — the ones we just had,” said DeLorey. “We don’t have natural allies, it’s true, and we have to work piece by piece on each legislation with the other parties, and we’ve proven very capable of doing that and that could work out very well for Canadians.”

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