Election 2021 is finally behind us. The end result of this $600M snap election in the middle of a fourth wave is a parliament that is almost exactly the same as the one that preceded it. As the Liberal Party did not lose any seats, the outcome was not as politically damaging to the Prime Minister as it could have been. Although he lost a good deal of precious political capital in calling this election, taking the risk, and not gaining a majority – for now at least, Justin Trudeau is safe as PM. Over the medium term though, pressures on his leadership are likely to build.
For Erin O’Toole the election was a serious failure. He both failed to increase his seat count and lost a bit of the vote share. He also failed to gain any Tory seats in the crucial 905 mortgage belt or in the city of Toronto. O’Toole is the first Tory leader from the GTA since the party reunified almost two decades ago, and his lack of success in the area is going to hurt him. The Tories actually lost two seats in the GTA (Aurora Oak Ridges Richmond Hill, and Markham Unionville). This speaks to the Tory party’s weakness in the region, the failure of O’Toole’s pivot to the centre, and to the Liberal Party’s local organizational heft and popularity. If O’Toole lost seats in the GTA to a Prime Minister who’s shine is gone and who called an unpopular, expensive election then how will the Tory party return to power under him in the future? Media talk of how O’Toole’s leadership is going to be challenged is already significant (ditto for Justin too).
For the other parties the election was a mixed bag. The Bloc Quebecois won two new seats and increased its vote share – not a bad outcome. The NDP saw a slight increase in its vote share but only gained one new seat – the party failed to recover much of the support it has lost under Singh’s leadership. The Greens gained one seat in Ontario at the expense of the Liberals, but saw its overall vote share fall precipitously, and Bernier’s PPC failed to pick up a single seat. From a strategic perspective, the Liberal Party were the big winners, as they fended off contenders well and actually gained one seat overall (so far). When the next election comes around, it is likely that we could see a whole new cast of leaders (Lib/Tory/Green especially).