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Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The basics

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new, larger cabinet was sworn in Wednesday, elevating Chrystia Freeland to Deputy Prime Minister and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister. Here’s a full list of the new 36-member cabinet, the breakdown by region and gender and comparisons with past governments’ cabinets.
  • Quebec lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez is the new House Leader, making him the Liberals’ point man in dealing with other parties in the minority Parliament to get legislation passed.
  • Jim Carr, the senior Liberal to have survived their near-wipeout in the Prairie provinces, has been picked not for a cabinet job, but as Mr. Trudeau’s special representative to the Prairies. He and Ms. Freeland, an Alberta-born Toronto MP, will be important peacemakers with Alberta and Saskatchewan, provinces that went almost entirely Conservative in October’s election.


What is minority government?

Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

To govern, a government needs the confidence of the House of Commons, which means being able to marshal the most votes for key legislation from the ruling party’s MPs or from allied parties. If one party has more than half the seats – which, in this 338-seat Parliament, is 170 – that’s easy. That’s a majority government. Most federal governments have been majorities because the first-past-the-post electoral system puts smaller parties at a disadvantage.

But if the leading party has fewer than half the seats, as the Liberals do now (they have 157), that’s a minority government, also called a hung Parliament. Opposition parties can defeat a minority by:

  • Holding and passing a vote of no confidence, an explicit statement that the parties don’t have faith in the government
  • Defeating a Throne Speech, budget or other confidence question

If the government falls, a new election is triggered. The last time that happened federally was in 2011, when the Liberals, NDP and Bloc supported a motion finding Stephen Harper’s minority Conservatives in contempt of Parliament for not releasing budget-related documents. But that happened three years after the previous election, when the parties’ campaign war chests had been replenished and the main opposition party had chosen a new leader.

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April 13, 2011: Leaders Jack Layton of the NDP, Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc, Stephen Harper of the Conservatives and Michael Ignatieff of the Liberals shake hands before an election debate.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

One way to prevent the collapse of a minority Parliament is coalition government, in which two or more parties who can hold majority status together make a formal power-sharing deal. Those are rare in Canada: The last time it happened federally was during the First World War, and the rise of the Bloc Québécois in the 1990s made the idea of coalitions seem politically toxic. B.C. currently has a minority government, but it’s not a coalition: The provincial NDP and Greens describe it as an NDP government supported by the Greens, not an NDP-Green coalition.

How could this government fall?

Mr. Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh shake hands after the Oct. 10 French-language leaders' debate in Gatineau, Que.

Adrian Wyld/Pool via REUTERS

None of the parties has a good reason to trigger an election soon, which would anger voters and could produce a result essentially the same as what we have now. “Everybody will make this work for at least two years," University of Moncton political scientist Donald Savoie told The Globe and Mail.

Even if Mr. Trudeau is challenged, his minority is a strong one, and he has better options to survive a confidence vote than the opposition parties have to defeat him. The Liberals could pass a confidence test with support from either the Bloc (who have 32 seats) or the NDP (24 seats). In theory, this means the Liberals could govern without seeking Bloc support, avoiding the unusual sight of a son of Pierre Trudeau joining forces with separatists.

But to topple the government, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, who have 121 seats, would have to reach impossibly far across the political spectrum, and any victory scenario would require both the Bloc and NDP. A Tory-Bloc-NDP alliance would have 177 seats, but if, for instance, it were Liberals-NDP versus Conservatives-Bloc, it would be 181 to 153. Liberals-Bloc versus Conservatives-NDP would be 189 to 145; again, a loss for Mr. Scheer. (The Greens and the lone Independent could affect the margin of victory in any of these scenarios, but they don’t have enough votes to change the outcome.)

SCENARIOS IN CONFIDENCE VOTE

LIB

CON

BQ

170 seats

for majority

NDP

GRN

216

LIB + BQ + NDP + GRN

213

LIB + BQ + NDP

189

LIB + BQ

181

LIB + NDP

180

CON + NDP + BQ + GRN

177

CON + NDP + BQ

153

CON + BQ

145

CON + NDP

SCENARIOS IN CONFIDENCE VOTE

LIB

CON

BQ

170 seats

for majority

NDP

GRN

216

LIB + BQ + NDP + GRN

213

LIB + BQ + NDP

189

LIB + BQ

181

LIB + NDP

180

CON + NDP + BQ + GRN

177

CON + NDP + BQ

153

CON + BQ

145

CON + NDP

SCENARIOS IN CONFIDENCE VOTE

170 seats

for majority

LIB

CON

BQ

NDP

GRN

216

LIB + BQ + NDP + GRN

213

LIB + BQ + NDP

189

LIB + BQ

181

LIB + NDP

180

CON + NDP + BQ + GRN

177

CON + NDP + BQ

153

CON + BQ

145

CON + NDP

The parties’ pledges to co-operate (or not)

Liberals: Mr. Trudeau spoke about his plans for the minority era at a Wednesday news conference, where he said he wouldn’t form any coalition, formal or otherwise. With his new cabinet sworn in, his next priority is to get those ministers ready for the House’s return on Dec. 6. He hasn’t said when he expects a Throne Speech to take place.

NDP: When it comes to potential arrangements to support the Liberals, the NDP Leader has said “everything is on the table." But he also stressed that Mr. Trudeau has to understand he’s in a minority Parliament now and will have to work with the other parties to succeed.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer speaks in Regina on Oct. 22.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Conservatives: Mr. Scheer, whose party secured a slightly larger share of the overall popular vote, has been doubling down on accusations that the Liberals “failed” and don’t deserve to govern. "We’re flying back to Ottawa with our team, we’re going to be going through what happened in this campaign and we’re going to be preparing the groundwork so that next time we’re even stronger and we’re ready to replace this Trudeau government,” Mr. Scheer said in Regina the day after election day.

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Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Bloc: Leader Yves-François Blanchet, whose party surged to third place in the House, says his priority is to speak for Quebec on issues like the environment, immigration and taxation. He says he’s not in Ottawa to promote separatism or to trigger another election so soon after the last one, but will instead support or oppose government legislation on a case-by-case basis.

Greens: Leader Elizabeth May says that unless the Liberals raise their targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, they shouldn’t count on support from the Greens on any issue. That’s not a threat she can easily enforce: Green Party rules forbid whipped votes, meaning the other two Green MPs, Paul Manly and Jenica Atwin, could vote differently than Ms. May does without fear of expulsion from the party. In any event, the Greens will be getting a new leader soon: Ms. May resigned on Nov. 4, though she remains the Greens’ parliamentary leader. The party, now led by Halifax candidate Jo-Ann Roberts, will choose a new leader at a convention in Prince Edward Island next October.

Independent candidate Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Jimmy Jeong/The Canadian Press

Independent: Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former star cabinet minister ousted from the Liberals for her public stand on the SNC-Lavalin affair, is the lone Independent in the House. Without the infrastructure, staff and funding that MPs have in larger parties, it’s unclear what influence she could have. She has said that, despite past friction between her and the Liberals, she’s still a progressive and is willing to support them on a variety of issues.

Ottawa, Sept. 27: People rally on Parliament Hill as part of a global climate strike.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Points of contention

Pipelines: All parties except the Conservatives are in favour of keeping the Liberals’ carbon-pricing framework, but the bigger climate-change-related issue is what to do about oil pipelines. Last year, Mr. Trudeau’s government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline system for $4.5-billion to make sure an expansion is built that would ship even more Alberta crude to the B.C. coast. Mr. Trudeau says the Liberals plan to go ahead with it “as soon as possible,” but the NDP and Greens opposed it during the election campaign, arguing that exporting more oil is the wrong thing for Canada to do in a global climate crisis. The Conservatives also want to build Trans Mountain. Mr. Blanchet opposes pipelines on Quebec’s soil, such as the national energy corridor Mr. Scheer proposed to build if the Conservatives were elected, but he’s said he won’t bring the government down over Trans Mountain because it’s Western Canada’s problem, not Quebec’s.

Prairie ire: Except for one NDP seat in Edmonton, the Conservatives locked down every riding in Alberta and Saskatchewan by positioning themselves as champions of the oil and gas sector. Alberta and Saskatchewan’s premiers noticed, and warned Mr. Trudeau after election day that western alienation is a force to be reckoned with. In the House, expect to see drama about westerners’ energy- and economy-related grievances. In the Liberal caucus, Ms. Freeland (the Alberta-born Intergovernmental Affairs Minister) and Jim Carr (a Manitoba MP given a special assignment as representative to the Prairies) will play important parts in Mr. Trudeau’s efforts to make peace with Western Canada.

Quebec: Last year, Quebec passed a controversial law barring most public servants from wearing religious symbols like turbans or face veils, a law that civil-rights groups are challenging in court as discriminatory on racial and religious grounds. None of the federalist party leaders promised that Ottawa would support the challenge, but Mr. Trudeau was the only one to leave the door open to future intervention. Mr. Blanchet has said he won’t let that happen, and all parties’ rhetoric on the religious-symbols law will be closely watched by the Bloc and by Quebeckers.

More reading on the election results

ELECTION RESULTS 2015 VS. 2019

2015 FEDERAL

ELECTION RESULTS

SEATS WON

184

LIB

99

CON

44

NDP

10

BLOC

1

GREEN

2019 FEDERAL

ELECTION RESULTS

As of 6:30 a.m. ET

SEATS WON

157

LIB

121

CON

32

BLOC

24

NDP

3

GREEN

1

OTHERS

ELECTION RESULTS 2015 VS. 2019

2015 FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

SEATS WON

184

LIB

99

CON

44

NDP

10

BLOC

1

GREEN

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

As of 6:30 a.m. ET

SEATS WON

157

LIB

121

CON

32

BLOC

24

NDP

3

GREEN

1

OTHERS

ELECTION RESULTS 2015 VS. 2019

SEATS WON

2015 FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

184

LIB

99

CON

44

NDP

10

BLOC

1

GREEN

SEATS WON

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

As of 6:30 a.m. ET

157

LIB

121

CON

32

BLOC

24

NDP

3

GREEN

1

OTHERS

Full riding-by-riding results

Voter turnout: Enthusiasm that brought Trudeau to power in 2015 has dimmed

Race and gender: Limited gains for diverse candidates prompt calls for changes to nomination process

B.C.: The key Liberal wins and losses on the West Coast

Prairies: Conservative sweep of illustrates deep well of resentment facing Trudeau

Ontario: Liberals maintain hold on key ridings in vote-rich GTA

Atlantic Canada: Liberals slip a bit but win strongly as Green Party makes breakthrough

Commentary and analysis

Konrad Yakabuski: As Canada’s new Foreign Affairs Minister, can Champagne fix what Freeland broke?

Campbell Clark: Trudeau will work with any party, as long as it’s on his terms

David Rosenberg: The economy is a bit of a farce and Canadian voters have just asked for four more years of it

Lori Turnbull: Canada isn’t polarized – only our party system is

Lawrence Martin: In Canada, disunity comes with the territory

Gary Mason: The new government’s first priority? Look West

Watch: Chief political writer Campbell Clark looks at some of the friends Justin Trudeau will have to make to advance his agenda.

Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from Bill Curry, Marieke Walsh, Kristy Kirkup, Daniel Leblanc, Kathryn Blaze Baum, Tu Thanh Ha, James Keller, Nancy Macdonald, Ian Bailey, Justine Hunter, Andrea Woo and Evan Annett

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