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What's next for the new Liberal minority government?

And where the other main party leaders stand moving forward
Photo from The Canadian Press

Election night 2021 was another wild one. Complete with several ridings flip-flopping back and forth as votes were counted in some incredibly tight races.

Despite that, the make-up of parliament today isn't all that much different from when it was dissolved over a month ago.

"There's been a couple of seats that flipped one way or the other but I think, overall, we're right where we started," said Andrea Perrella, Associate Professor of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University.

All through the campaign, one of the big questions on a lot of people's minds was quite simply, why? Why are we going to the polls now, in the middle of a pandemic? 

Now, with the results the way they are, that question hasn't really been answered.

"I think it was misguided to call an election," said Perrella. "All I can say is lucky him he's back where he was because there's still no real threat."

Perrella says the only way the new Liberal minority can be brought down, much the same as the last one, is if the other parties conspire to topple it. He says that would not be a wise move from opposition parties right now and it would be an even worse idea for Trudeau to be contemplating another crack at a majority in a year or two.

"I think, if there's any lesson that's learned it's to stay the course, go the distance, there's no need to call an election early because you've got a solid minority, a very workable minority," Perrella said.

What comes next for Erin O'Toole?

Even while election day ballots still being cast, Conservative Party of Canada insiders were already starting to soften the blow of an electoral defeat.

The polls were still open in Ontario as some of those insiders were already claiming the campaign would consider it a win if it was able to keep a the Liberals from grasping a majority.

Despite accomplishing that and winning his own GTA seat, some in the party already have their knives out and pointed at Erin O'Toole's leadership.

"There was already some grumbling because he (O'Toole) took the party closer to the centre but I thought that was a very good, strategic move," said Perrella.

Perrella suggests a move to the left may cost some seats in the west but it could make the Tories legitimate contenders in more GTA and Montreal-area ridings.

"More like what we used to call 'a progressive conservative' and I don't think that's a terrible move," Perrella said. "There may be people in his party that don't agree with that but I think that's the road for the Conservative Party to consider if they want to win a majority."

During the federal election campaign, O'Toole's seeming lean to the left did open him up to criticism that he had flip-flopped on certain issues since moving more to the political right during the party's leadership race.

Perrella says, rather than trying to defend against those criticisms, O'Toole could have leaned-in even further.

"Erin O'Toole could have been more open and more assertive on vaccination saying, 'yes, I'm going to insist my candidates are vaccinated, I'm going to insist that everyone on my plane is vaccinated,' and basically join the rest of the country on where we stand on these healthcare protocols," Perrella said.

"And sure, the [Peoples' Party of Canada] is going to make a stink about that but I really don't think that would have cost more than it would have gained," he said. "I don't think they should be going after the PPC vote, if the Conservatives want to win I think they should be going after the Liberal voters, or even NDP or Green voters."

"I think they're the ones who are more likely to say, 'I think I'm going to give these guys a chance', but give them a reason for it."

What's on the NDP's to-do list?

Locked into another minority government, the Liberals are going to need to be willing to play ball with at least one of the opposition parties.

The NDP's third place finish may still put it in prime position to influence government policy now, immediately following another election, than it was wielding just a month or two ago in a very similar position within the previous minority government.

"I could see the NDP carrying a lot of weight here and it may resemble, a little bit, the minority governments of the late-1960s that brought in healthcare and so forth," said Perrella.

"I can see the NDP saying 'I want to see daycare everywhere', pharmacare, let's move on that, and maybe even electoral reform," he said.

"I can see the NDP making demands and saying 'we can bring you down and it will not be good for you'."

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