Lessons from a Snap Election

September 24, 2021

Mallika Tiwari and Palweet Kaur Parmar

As Canada watched the mail-in ballots counted and results from the polls come in, one thing was sure – not much had changed – the parties emerged from the campaign trail as they were prior to the election. However, there are certain lessons we have learned from the outcome of this election and the feedback from voters.

Shifting left

This election has shown that a majority of Canadians continue to embrace progressive policies with seats going to Liberals, New Democrats and the Green party – for the first time in Ontario. In the riding of Kitchener Centre, Mike Morrice pulled through with a win for the Green Party after the Liberal incumbent Raj Saini withdrew from the campaign following allegations of harassment.

Climate change and childcare are crucial issues for Canadians and the current Liberal policies that have seen support from the NDP will go on as planned. The Liberals national $10-a-day affordable childcare program was already endorsed by Parliament earlier this year and will go into effect in eight provinces and territories. Their ambitious climate change plans include reduction of emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels. Though the Greens and NDP called for even more ambitious targets, it was probably their lack of specificity on the plan to achieving those targets, that may not have appealed to voters.

Not your grandparent’s Conservative Party

Erin O’Toole conceded victory with a post-election speech that reiterated his priority to establish the Conservative Party as a more inclusive, diverse and progressive party than in the past. Though O’Toole ran his campaign as more moderate Conservative, his party’s stance on climate change and the ban on ‘military-grade’ weapons raised some eyebrows. The party’s climate change plan has also been criticized for returning to lower emission targets first set by former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Although most Canadians continue to embrace the Liberals’ plan, a growing number of Canadians showed their support for the People’s Party of Canada, which tripled its votes over the 2019 election. The splitting of the conservative vote between the People’s Party and the Conservative Party may have cost the Conservatives several ridings. The People’s Party of Canada campaigned on lifting COVID-19 restrictions, reducing immigration and expanding the oil and gas industry. This increase in populist party votes demonstrates that the moderate stance of the Conservative Party didn’t appeal to all Conservative voters.

The Housing Crisis is Real

This election has highlighted the seriousness of the housing crisis in Canada. The lack of housing supply and affordability remains an ongoing issue. The Liberals have promised a new anti-flipping tax, a two-year ban on sales to foreign buyers and $4 billion in a Housing Accelerator Fund to support municipalities’ housing efforts. However, governments, developers and city planners are reevaluating the traditional single-family home and even the traditional condo, to meet changing demands precipitated by the pandemic. Housing spaces need to be more inclusive, more open and multi-use as well. Condominiums and multi-unit housing are part of the solution to this supply crisis, but developers must consider that the pandemic shifted homeowners’ priorities to include connection to natural spaces and access to multi-use communal spaces as well.

A Changed Economy?

The political landscape remains relatively unchanged following this snap election. In response to election results, the Canadian dollar and Canadian stocks have climbed as the status quo remains unchanged. Looking ahead, we may see increased spending to improve economic performance and though a balanced budget is not a priority, a stable debt-to-GDP ratio will remain of concern.

The oil and gas industry has called for support from the new government even with the Liberals vowing to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies within two years. The industry has plans to continue working with the government to rebuild the economy and argues that getting behind the country’s own resources is a better way to protect the environment.

The upcoming months will be revealing, as the financial sector will be faced by the proposed surtax on large banks and insurers outlined by the Liberal Party during the campaign.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Canadians have made it clear that above all, they want accountability. Canadians have given Justin Trudeau and his party another chance to live up to election promises and help Canada recover from the pandemic. With the Liberal minority government leaning on other parties to pass legislations, all parties will have to work together to pass policies on the issues that matter most to Canadian – climate change, childcare, housing and health care.

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