The Canadian elections took place yesterday. Prime minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, hammered by its leader’s political and personal scandals, lost 20 seats and its majority but still managed to remain the single largest party. It won 157 of the 338 seats with 33% of the popular vote and will have to cobble together a coalition with other parties to get a parliamentary majority and form a government. The opposition Conservatives gained 26 seats and now have 121. They also won a narrow plurality of the popular vote with 34.4%. The Bloc Quebecois won 32 seats and the New Democratic Party won 24.
Cory Doctorow analyzes the result and says that Trudeau deserved his comeuppance because for the longest time he has managed to project a progressive image while tacking towards neoliberal policies.
Justin Trudeau is not your woke bae, he’s just Joe Biden with abs: there’s no policy so progressive that JT won’t endorse it, provided that he never has to do anything to make good on that endorsement, which is how JT ended up being complicit in the #MuslimBan, making Canada’s Patriot Act much worse, bailing out the Transcanada pipeline so in service to Alberta’s filthy, planet-destroying tar sands, abandoning his promises for indigenous reconciliation, rescuing the giant Saudi arms deal, caving to Trump on NAFTA 2.0, and putting partisanship ahead of justice to get a corrupt, giant engineering company off the hook, throwing his indigenous Attorney General under the bus in order to preserve his relationship with a giant party donor.
The Liberals still have the largest block in Parliament, and will form a minority government, relying on the leftist New Democratic Party (who lost 15 seats) to supply the majorities they need to enact their agenda. This will act as a powerful check on Trudeau’s politics of Clintonian sellout triangulation, with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh publicly declaring the cost of his support: “support for a national pharmacare plan, investments in housing, addressing student debt, lowering cell phone and internet bills, action on climate, and raising taxes on the wealthiest Canadians.”
Meanwhile, the Liberal Party’s internal power brokers — who won every fight over the past 5 years to put party over country and appearance over substance — are now going to be engaged in a high-stakes game of brinksmanship, demanding that the NDP support more-of-the-same neoliberal sellouts, dangling the threat of an election-triggering no-confidence vote and a possible Conservative majority.
Trudeau has managed to skate along with his youth, good looks, and charisma masking the fact that his progressive rhetoric comes nowhere close to his actual policies. He is Canada’s version of Bill Clinton. Let’s see how he deals with this new situation.