On Monday Canadians cast their ballots to elect our next government. Electors headed to the polls after a lacklustre 36-day campaign for an election that many felt was unnecessary, given the two years remaining in the term combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has exhausted many Canadians over the past 18 months.
During this election campaign I have found that many I have talked to, no matter their political stripe, were simply not interested in an election being held right now. Like myself, others have considered this election to be an opportunistic waste of time, energy, and resources in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
If I found any element of surprise in the election results, it was that our prime minister and his Liberal party were seemingly not punished by voters for the untimely election call, and in fact as of Tuesday morning they had even gained one seat more than they had in 2019. Perhaps they were punished, perhaps voters gave Trudeau and the Liberals exactly what they wanted – nothing. Perhaps Canadians have subconsciously scolded the prime minister, telling him to get back to work and finish the term he was elected to govern. What Canadians were clearly not in the mood to do was to hand the Liberals a majority government. Perhaps that is the punishment for the Liberals, subconscious or not.
An election called a year or two from now, with a comfortable distance from the frustrations of the pandemic, and the results might very well have been quite different.
As it stands, Canadians have spent more than $600 million on an election that few seemed to have wanted, and at the end of the day we have a virtually identical minority government to that which was in place 37 days ago, prior to the election call.
A colossal waste of time is how I might best describe the election we have had thrust upon us. With its lack of impact or real change this is an election that will be forgotten by history, a hiccup in time that changed nothing yet frustrated many.
That we woke on Tuesday morning to another minority government is not a concern for me. I don’t have issues with minority governments, though I concede that they can be unproductive at times, but then I have yet to see any majority government win any prizes for productivity.
This minority government will have its hands full. With a growing polarization in this country, and with a clear rift between the west and the east, it will not be easy at all to find common ground. My only real fear with this newly elected minority government is that a confidence vote in the House of Commons could happen sooner than any of us might expect, forcing us back to the polls. So my hope is that all parties can find a way to play nicely in the sandbox and make some real progress on the issues facing everyday Canadians, however my realist side tells me that what we can likely expect is more infantile bickering between parties and little to nothing will be accomplished. Such is the uncertain nature of minority governments: they can work splendidly, or they can be a train wreck.
So, the election is over, and nothing has changed. Are any of us really surprised?