Canada Election 2021: Trudeau humbled, O’Toole the big loser in #elxn44

The Liberals didn't get their majority, but billed as the guy to deliver Ontario to the Conservatives the knives are already out for O'Toole

Much ado about nothing? #Elxn44 was like 2019 all over again with the Liberals holding on to a minority.

There’s still much to pick through. Most political observers looking at Monday night’s election results came away thinking it was all for naught. The final seat count would seem to support that thesis. The Liberals (158), Conservatives (119), NDP (25) and Bloc (34) ended up where they started before the election, give or take a handful of seats.

But it was Conservative party leader  Erin O’Toole who was the big loser on the night. 

The Trudeau Liberals didn’t get their majority. But billed as the guy who would deliver Ontario to the Conservatives, O’Toole stumbled in Canada’s most vote-rich province and was shut out almost completely in the crucial GTA. The Conservative leader now finds himself fighting for his political life. The knives are already out. 

The election results say at least two things.

First, many Canadians who didn’t want an election in the first place were wary about switching their vote during a pandemic. Secondly, Canadians broadly support the direction of the Liberal party and minority governments in general. It’s the fifth time in seven elections that Canadians have elected a minority government.

Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet put it best when he said that the message from voters is clear. “The parties will have to work together to do better.” He told supporters in French that it was “our duty to act in good faith and in order put aside the rancour of the past.”

Don’t bet on it. The country is more divided than ever. We saw it during the election. We heard it during O’Toole’s concession speech, which unlike his competitors struck a startlingly aggressive tone.

O’Toole started his speech talking about “healing” divisions in the country, but was quick to go on the offensive, suggesting that the Liberals are already planning another election in 18 months. That’s highly unlikely. It was meant more for his base.

But it’s O’Toole who wavered during the campaign, flip-flopping on key platform positions and running from questions in the last days. Potential successors were already lining up before Monday’s vote when the momentum of the first two weeks of the campaign stalled abruptly. It was little coincidence that his advisers were already leaking word before the votes were counted that holding the Liberals to a minority would be a victory. 

But within minutes of a minority government being called detractors were emerging from the shadows. 

Anti-abortion group Campaign Life sent an email to supporters suggesting its time for him to go. Former party interim leader Rona Ambrose offered on CTV that O’Toole made a “mistake in judgment” when he failed to come out for vaccine passports. Despite holding on to most seats out West, the party’s popular support in Alberta fell by some 14 per cent overall, losing a handful of seats to the Liberals and NDP in the process. The breakthrough in BC never materialized. The Conservatives, in fact, ended up with two fewer seats than they started with.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, struck a more cautious tone. It was a marked departure from his attacks on Trudeau during the campaign. Singh noted the party’s efforts to increase income supports like CERB during the pandemic. He said the party would continue to “fight for Canadians.”

The NDP increased its seat totals but it’s the Bloc that will likely hold the balance of power in third place in the House.

For Trudeau, the election results are humbling. To be sure, some Liberal strategists expressed concerns he would be punished at the polls. It was a subdued Liberal leader who showed up in his home riding of Papineau in Montreal to cast his ballot.

He talked in his speech about being given a “clear mandate.”

“Some have talked about division but what I see is a determination to end the pandemic.” More importantly, he said that he had “heard” Canadians. 

“You want to know that members of parliament no matter what political stripe will have your back.” 

He ended his speech with a quote from Laurier about remembering the past while looking to the future. Whether the post-election spirit of cooperation will devolve into partisanship as the pandemic fades remains to be seen. At least for now three of the main party leaders seem to have gotten the message from voters.


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3 responses to “Canada Election 2021: Trudeau humbled, O’Toole the big loser in #elxn44”

  1. The Cons still keep putting up right wing and Islamophobic candidates (e.g. Cotter). Then wonder why they won’t win Ontario and the GTA in particular? They are definitely the party of the old angry white Christian or New Atheist (even worse) male!

  2. “The Fiberals got their boy in again and may it bite them in the ass” is sadly an example of the poisonous preposterous petty partisan politics radiating from the Republicans and Right-wingers right-next-door in the United States. The Conservative party in Canada started copying Republican dirty tricks, to the point of importing Republican strategists to teach them how. Social media and close cross-border personal ties have allowed U.S. right-wing propaganda and post-truthism, misinformation and disinformation to proliferate in Canada even though a FOX News North failed to take root with laughably low ratings. Trump greatly empowered radicalism, right-wing irrationality and racism, which opened the door for conspiracy theory cults.
    And our political discourse has devolved to this. An unfounded insult wrapped in a pretty propaganda pun and an ill-wish curse for the future. We need to take a look at what toxic partisanship and propaganda have done to the U.S. They are so divided and belligerent, if you gave them muskets and cannons they’d devolve into the Civil War. They are imploding, so self-absorbed and wrapped up in their culture war they have become a dysfunctional society and have lost their position in the world. It is because of their toxic partisanship and propaganda that though they were classified as the most well prepared country to deal with a pandemic before Covid 19, they by far fared the worst.
    We do not want to go down that road. The Alberta Jason Kenney government did go down that road. Due to Alberta’s refusal to protect themselves with masks and vaxx, they are now totally overwhelmed by the completely predictable and predicted 4th wave. Ten days before the election, the Trudeau government offered help to Alberta. Alberta hospitals and health care workers were pleading for Kenney to accept Ottawa’s help. Kenney waited 10 days until the day AFTER the election to authorize the federal help through his Minister of Municipal Affairs. Now the health care emergency is even more dire, with Alberta patients being airlifted out of the province by federal medevac teams. A lot of people can die in 10 days. Alberta doctors said they were a handful of patients away from having to do triage i.e., deciding who would get the life-saving health care and who would be left to die. As it was, ICU’s were dangerously overcrowded and understaffed. All because Conservatives didn’t want to allow the Liberal government to do its job and look efficient and helpful. And they endangered and sacrificed the health and well-being, even the very lives, of Albertans for nothing, because it didn’t put O’Toole in power, and it just made the Conservatives look bad instead of the Liberal government.
    So let’s stop the poisonous partisanship and propaganda. It only does a great deal of harm. Instead, let’s debate and discuss our issues. It’s okay to express different points of view, to defend different political positions, but attacking each other with dirty tricks, personal insults and lies–we’d only be attacking our own country.

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