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Canada's electorate delivered less of a message to its political leaders and more of an apathetic shrug as the snap general election billed as either a chance to give PM Justin Trudeau the opportunity to build on his policies of the last few years by giving him a majority, or allow voters to remove him from office ended up with the parties standing still, with only a handful of seats changing hands.

  • Trudeau's centre-left Liberal Party failed to win a majority, indeed winning just one additional seat from the 2019 election result to lift the party's total to 158. The centre-right Conservatives of Erin O'Toole won 119 seats, the same total as the party held prior to the election and down two on the 2019 result.
  • With the Liberals as the largest party, Trudeau is set for a third term in office and his second at the head of a minority gov't. He will require support from either the leftist New Democratic Party (NDP, 25 seats, up one from 2019) or the Quebec regionalist Bloc Quebecois (BQ, 34 seats, up two) in order to pass legislation.
  • The inherent instability of minority gov'ts risks Canadians returning to the polls before the official expiry of the new parliamentary term in September 2025.
  • While Trudeau's position as PM is likely safe for now, his calling of an election criticised as unnecessary amid the pandemic only to fail to win a majority could see rumblings within the Liberal party as to the long-term suitability of Trudeau as party head. As noted by our Ottawa bureau (see 'MNI Brief: Trudeau Winning Another Minority Government'), Finance Minister and Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland and former BOC and BOE governor Mark Carney (not an MP but a stated LPC supporter) are seen as potential frontrunners to replace the incumbent.

Chart 1. 2021 Canadian Election Result, Seats

Source: globalnews.ca, MNI. N.b. Changes from 2019 election result.