Whatever the outcome of the Sept. 20 federal election, most Canadian voters won’t be happy with the results.
If past elections are any indication, the party to form the next government will have the support of a minority of voters.
In 2011, the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper formed a majority government with just shy of 40 per cent of the popular vote.
The same thing happened again in 2015 when the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau formed a majority government.
In both cases, more than three out of five Canadian voters chose a candidate who was not a member of the governing party.
In the 2019 federal election, when Trudeau’s Liberals formed a minority government, the party received support from just 33.1 per cent of voters.
More than two-thirds of Canadian voters did not cast their ballot for the Liberals.
What’s more, the Conservative Party under Andrew Scheer received more support than the Liberals received in 2019.
Because of the way the votes were distributed, the Liberals won 157 seats while the Conservatives won 121 seats.
The last time a party received a majority of voter support was in 1984 when the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Mulroney received 50.03 per cent support.
Still, the number of people who voted for the Tories was close to the same as the number who did not choose that party.
Earlier, the Progressive Conservatives under John Diefenbaker received 53.67 per cent support in the 1958 election.
That election resulted in the strongest majority government in Canadian history. It was also the second-highest level of voter support for a party. Prior to that, only three federal elections saw a governing party receive more than 50 per cent of voter support.
If pre-election polls this year are any indication, the party to form the next government will receive support from less than 40 per cent of those who cast ballots.
This is to be expected, as Canada’s federal structure has multiple parties in the House of Commons. Going into the 2019 election race, there were six parties represented in the House of Commons, and going into this election, there were five parties represented (including the Green Party which did not have official party status.)
There were also five independent MPs and one vacant seat.
Canadians are diverse, and voting patterns throughout the country show some of this diversity. We do not all choose similar candidates, nor do we align with the same party ideologies.
While some will be upset or unhappy with the result of the election, it is important to remember that the decision will be made by the Canadians who cast ballots. This is how our democratic system functions and the outcome must be respected, even by those who would have preferred something else.
Stephen Harper articulated this best in his concession speech on the evening of the federal election on Oct. 19, 2015.
“While tonight’s result is certainly not the one we had hoped for, the people are never wrong,” he said at the time. “The Canadian population has elected a Liberal government, a result we accept without hesitation.”
The Sept. 20 election results need to be accepted in the same way, whether that result is another Liberal minority, a Liberal majority, a Conservative majority or minority or any other outcome.
Not everyone will be happy with the outcome, but whatever happens, will be the result of the democratic process.
John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.