Category: speakers corner

How to Navigate the New Liberal Minority Government in Ottawa

Paul Tye, Senior Consultant

On October 21st, Prime Minister Trudeau was re-elected to a stable minority government, winning 157 of 338 seats in the House of Commons. While not a majority, the weakened showing of the opposition NDP, and Green Party, will mean they will be in no rush to return to the polls and should support the Prime Minister and the Liberal government for the foreseeable future.

Many of the Liberal priorities such as addressing climate change, reducing taxes for middle-class Canadians, indigenous reconciliation and building the TMX pipeline remain intact. On each of these issues, the Liberals are likely to find support from one or more opposition parties. This means that for companies doing business with the new government aligning priorities and narratives with these commitments will be required.

The Liberals will need to overcome being shut out in Saskatchewan and Alberta and the re-emergence of the Bloc in Quebec. They need to adjust their approach in both regions, seeking outside support and finding areas of common ground with Provincial Premiers. No easy task after a divisive campaign. Ideas that help ease issues of regional divisions are likely to find an open ear with this government, keeping in mind that the ideas will need to align with the overall narrative above.

In a minority parliament, committees are King. Like the House of Commons, the opposition will hold the majority of seats in all committees and therefore control the agenda, meaning the government will need robust agreements, not just on bills overall, but on each clause of legislation. In short, every opposition amendment becomes a bargaining chip. For any party reduced to a minority, this is the first significant test of cooperation. It will be important to build relationships with all members from all parties on committees and engage with the process actively—if you have an issue at committee, being in the room will be key.

We are likely to see an altered approach by the Prime Minister and his team to highlight the hard work and focus required to navigate the choppier waters the Liberals find themselves in. Parties will have to work together, count votes carefully and find a path to getting work done on Parliament Hill. It’s important to be mindful that, in a minority situation, one wrong move and Canadians are back to the polls.

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