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ALAN HOLMAN: Most voters want PM humbled, not defeated

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau - Reuters

When Canadians wake up on Tuesday morning, they’ll likely find there is no clear winner to the 2019 federal election. That once again, Canada will have another minority government.

Often in a minority situation, the party with the most seats will try and govern with the tacit support from one or two of the minor parties. However, in spite of what Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said this week, the party with the most seats, unless they have a majority, doesn’t automatically get the first crack at forming a new government.

The Liberals are still the government and even if they get a few less seats than the Conservatives, they may be able to get enough support from either the Bloc Quebecois or the New Democrats to continue to stay in office. With the polls being so close, it is difficult to see where the Conservatives are going to gain enough seats for a minority, let alone a majority.

On election night, the first sign of what will happen may come from St. John’s, where the NDP could win a seat. Then watch the four seats of southern and eastern Nova Scotia. Three of them were traditional Conservative seats. And, if either of the Cape Breton seats go Tory, then something’s afoot that hasn’t shown up in the polls.

In southwest New Brunswick and along the Saint John River valley, there are also four or five traditional Tory seats that could return to the fold. There will be no change in P.E.I. However, the Conservatives could come out of Atlantic Canada with eight to 12 seats. In Quebec, a Leger poll on Thursday showed the Conservatives well behind both the Liberals and the BQ.

All Quebec parties are going to lose seats to the BQ, it’s just a matter of how many. Going into the election, the Liberals had 40 seats, and were confident of gaining seats there to make up for losses elsewhere. Now the BQ is expected to win between 30 and 40 of Quebec’s 78 seats. Its strength has nullified Liberal hopes of any real gains in Quebec.

Except for B.C., the West belongs to the Conservatives. They could win all the seats in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, maybe the NDP and Liberals could win a seat or two. In Manitoba, the Conservatives could win seven or eight of the province’s 14 seats.

According to recent polls, British Columbia is a three-way fight, with some scraps left over for the Green Party; one or two of the B.C.’s 42 seats.

The NDP would likely be happy if they can hold on to the 12 B.C. seats they have, leaving both the Liberals and the Conservatives about 15 seats each. That would be a gain of about seven for the Conservatives and dropped of two for the Liberals.

Which brings us to Ontario and it’s 124 seats. In 2015, the Liberals won 80 of them. Late in the week, the CBC’s Poll Tracker showed the Liberals with an eight-point lead over the Conservatives in all of Ontario, and a Nanos poll showed the Liberals with a 12-point lead in the critical suburban area of Toronto. They will win seats in Ontario, and the NDP will also pick up some.

Given that the Tories appear to be winning about 90-95 seats in the rest of the country, this means they’ll need 50-70 seats in Ontario for a minority government, and 80 plus seats for a majority. That’s a pretty tall order considering they only won 33 seats in the last election.

Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau ran weak campaigns, while the campaigns of both the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, and Yves-Francois Blanchet of the BQ, exceeded expectations. And, both will take seats that the major parties had counted on winning.

Most Canadians don’t want Andrew Scheer as prime minister. But, they wouldn’t mind seeing Justin Trudeau being humbled a bit, taken down a peg or two. A minority government could be just what’s required.

Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at:

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