The final number of seats is still in the air, but the Liberal Party will cling to power with another minority government.
A majority government requires at least 170 seats, and the Liberal Party appears to be more than 10 seats reluctant with that goal. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to keep his job for now, and for his team, today’s main rules of procedure are simply getting back to work.
Yet there are some ceremonial events and decisions that need to be made and some results are not yet complete before the newly elected MPs can take their seats.
So what happens then?
As in the last parliament, which despite the election will be almost identical to the next parliament, Trudeau needs the help of another party to pass legislation or get a budget through. The NDP served largely that role in the last parliament, and most expect that to remain the case now.
Trudeau won enough seats to make talk of a formal coalition unlikely.
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But first, the ballots have to be counted to determine how many seats he actually won. There are several places where the margin of victory is razor sharp, including two potential Liberal victories at the Edmonton Center and Vancouver Granville.
More than 780,000 mail votes have been collected, and they will not be counted until later today. Election Canada warned that it could take up to four days to complete the count in some clearings.
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Trudeau will have to mix up his cabinet because he lost at least two cabinet ministers, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan of Nova Scotia, and status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef of Ontario. Senior Secretary Deb Schulte was also behind in his suburb of Toronto, which ran last night.
Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna did not run this time, which could open seats for four ministers and four women, as Trudeau has committed to gender parity in the cabinet.
Two years ago, Trudeau waited a whole month to mix up his cabinet, but this year with the fourth wave of the pandemic still raging and the G20 summit and the UN climate summit a little over a month away, Trudeau may not be waiting as long to get his new team in place.
He must also set a date for the next speech from the throne, which will set the government’s agenda for the next parliament. Again, two years ago, Trudeau waited more than six weeks to make a throne speech, and he waited a month in 2015.
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The duty to call the new parliament officially lies with Governor-General Mary Simon, but she will do so on Trudeau’s advice.
So while his cabinet is likely to come sooner, Canadians could wait until mid-November for the resumption of parliament itself.
How MPs resurrect is also potentially in the air. When Parliament rose before the election, it was still in a pandemic state with approval from the House of Commons for virtual meetings and committee hearings.
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All these approvals, which have been dissolved with Parliament, and new agreements must be reached if virtual meetings and voting are to re-emerge. A virtual meeting can make it very difficult to proceed with the first rules of procedure for any new lower house that elects a speaker because it is supposed to be done by secret ballot.
Former speaker Anthony Rota led in his Northern Ontario riding last night, but he will not automatically get his speaker’s job back if he is declared the winner.
The speaker’s election is led by the longest-serving MP in House block Louis Plamondon, who won his seat again and will do so for the fifth time. MPs found out how to largely vote on legislation, but secret ballots are rare in parliament.
Any negotiation to hold this vote or further meetings in Parliament with a virtual function will require negotiations between the parties.
© 2021 The Canadian Press