Well, that was a waste of time. Not to mention a colossal waste of money. I’m speaking about the recent federal election of course – the one that Justin Trudeau called in the hopes of winning a majority government.
It was pretty clear from early on that the election boiled down to a battle over who would form the next minority – the Liberals or the Conservatives.
In my last editorial I wrote that the election results would depend on two competing factors – voter apathy vs voter anger. In the end, it was voter apathy that allowed Trudeau and the Liberals to remain in power.
Conventional wisdom states that a change in government is more likely when voter turnout is high and one of the key motivating factors to a high voter turnout is anger.
As it turned out, Canadians are not as angry as a lot of pundits thought and so voter turnout was the lowest in recent memory. According to the early data, just over 62 per cent of Canadians bothered to cast a ballot on Sept. 20. That’s the lowest voter turnout since 2008 when 58 per cent of Canadians voted. Coincidentally, Stephen Harper called that election in hopes of winning a majority government and suffered the same fate as Trudeau – a second minority.
Keep in mind that Harper would eventually win the majority he was hoping for three years later, so there’s still hope for Trudeau and company if history is to repeat itself. But this editorial isn’t about the election results. It’s about why it was held in the first place.
Nobody wanted an election and once it was called, nobody cared. The only burning issue is the ongoing COVID pandemic and the impact it’s having on people’s lives, and most people realize that a change in government won’t change their situation vis à vis the pandemic. They’re more worried about how their kids are going to manage going back to class, than they are about who’s in power in Ottawa.
This unnecessary election made the strongest argument yet for stick-ing to a four-year term between elections regardless of the situation.
Minority governments should be forced to work with the other parties to pass legislation. Is it the perfect situation for the party in power? Not really, but it will force all four parties to compromise, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
It also could result in legislation that is more moderate and more reflective of the wishes of all Canadians. Who knows, Canadians might actually prefer minority governments to majority rule which allows the party in power to act more like a dictatorship than consensus builders.
So ban non-confidence votes and take away the ability to call snap elections. You win a minority, deal with it. You have four years before your next kick at the can.