History says minority governments can succeed: Brandon University professor

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It’s election day, and Canadians are only hours away from learning who will represent them in Parliament and who will be the country’s next prime minister.

With the latest Ipsos poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, indicating a dead heat between the Conservatives and Liberals, a minority government seems possible, if not a likely result on Monday.

The poll found 33 per cent of decided voters would choose the Conservatives while 31 per cent would choose the Liberals. The difference is within the poll’s credibility interval of plus or minus two percentage points.

The NDP, Green Party, Bloc Québécois and PPC were not polling within reach of either the Tories or the Liberals.

READ MORE: Polls close in Prairies, Ontario, Quebec as Atlantic voters show preference for Liberals

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Brandon University political science professor Kelly Saunders told 680 CJOB on Monday that a minority government’s success or failure depends on how willing the leaders are to work together.

“We’ve had minority governments in the past and we always point back to the (Lester) Pearson years, where we got a lot of stuff done,” Saunders said.

Pearson, Canada’s 14th prime minister, led two back-to-back minority governments from 1963 to 1968.

“We had a minority Liberal government but, during that time, we had a new flag that we decided on, we expanded medicare and, during that time, we were able to get some really significant policy decisions made.”

READ MORE: Minority government could leave Governor General with critical role in what follows

Saunders said a Liberal minority would likely last longer than a Conservative one, thanks to the support of the NDP.

“We’ve already heard from the NDP … that they’re not willing to support a Conservative government so that would essentially mean that government would collapse pretty quick and we’d probably be back to another election,” Saunders said.

“If it’s a Liberal minority, then we’d likely be able to see the government hang on for possibly 18 months, two years or so, depending on what the issues are.”

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A Conservative victory, however, might result in the resignation of Trudeau as Liberal Party leader.

READ MORE: Election 2019 — Last-minute voters’ guide

“We would probably see Justin Trudeau step down as leader of the Liberal Party,” said Saunders.

“It would be pretty hard for him to continue to lead a party that won so significantly in terms of seats four years ago, only to see them lose that majority lead four years later.

“I really don’t see a path for him to stay on as leader if, in fact, the Liberals lose.”

— With files from Rachael D’Amore