Canada’s 42nd election will be remembered not just for the closely fought campaign, but also for the way it engaged Canadians, producing the highest voter turnout since 1993 (68%). The big story of the campaign’s final weeks was the shift in support from the NDP to the Liberals, enabling Justin Trudeau and his party to form a majority government with 39.5% of the popular vote and 54% of the seats in the House of Commons.
Mr. Trudeau will be sworn in as Canada’s 23rd prime minister along with a new Cabinet at Rideau Hall on November 4.
Change, the broad theme of the election campaign, will be reflected in the new Parliament, with nearly 200 first-time members of Parliament and a record number of indigenous MPs (10) and women (88) elected.
A new tone from the top
In Ottawa, the tone is set from the top, and prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau will bring a very different style to the job than Stephen Harper. The morning after the election, for example, he took to the Montreal transit system to shake hands with commuters. He then travelled to Ottawa for a news conference where he took media questions about the administrative transition – a rarity in Ottawa in recent years. Naturally, this commitment to openness will be tested in difficult times in the years to come.
The federal opposition parties will undergo change as well. The Conservative Party will launch a leadership process following Stephen Harper’s resignation, while the NDP will review Thomas Mulcair’s future as NDP leader after the party dropped to third place with only 44 seats, a decrease of 59 from 2011.
The transition process
What does this change mean and what can we expect in the months to come? Argyle is in the business of providing clients with fresh insight and perspective on the movement on Parliament Hill.
Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet is expected to be smaller than the past ones and will aim to achieve gender equity to address the legislative and political challenges that will be at the forefront of parliamentary business agenda.
The transition process to the new government is now underway led by Peter Harder, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Treasury Board Secretariat.The first order of business will be the preparation of the speech from the throne that will open the 42nd session of Parliament later this year or in early 2016. There are many key issues competing for space in the speech to set a new tone and agenda for the governing Liberals.
We can expect the early agenda of the new government and Parliament to reflect the key themes Mr. Trudeau emphasized in the 78-day campaign:
- The PM’s participation, with provincial premiers, in the international climate talks in Paris in late November;
- Balancing his campaign commitment to reduce Canada’s military role against the Islamic State in the Middle East while remaining supportive of the U.S. and other key allies;
- Increased spending on infrastructure to boost the economy;
- Tax breaks for the middle class, with higher taxes for income over $200,000;
- A “full and open public debate” on the recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement;
- A commitment to move quickly to amend the anti-terrorist act (Bill C-51) to improve oversight and safeguards for individual rights; and
- Cancellation of the purchase of the F-35 fighter jet for less expensive options to replace the aging CF-18s. The Liberals would leverage savings to pay for offshore Arctic patrol vessels for the Navy.
Other issues that may arise are early steps toward the potential legalization of marijuana, increasing the number of Syrian refugees accepted by Canada to 25,000, and beginning public consultations on electoral reform.
Argyle’s government relations team is close to the ground in Ottawa, monitoring the developments and engaging directly with decision-makers as the new Parliament and leadership unfolds.
Please let us know how we can help you. We are available to discuss with you our insights to how change in Ottawa affects you and your business. Please call us at 613-416-0010, ext 259, or email David Gourlay at email@example.com.
About the Author:
David Gourlay is the Vice President of Public Affairs for Argyle Public Relationships. He is a proven trusted advisor with a reputation as a relationship builder, leading all government relations and public affairs communications out of our Ottawa office.