Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau wave as they go on stage at Liberal election headquarters in Montreal, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau wave as they go on stage at Liberal election headquarters in Montreal, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Analysis: B.C. shone bright for major parties in 2019 federal election

A post-mortem following the Black Press Media series on B.C.’s role in the Oct. 21 vote

By Bruce Cameron

Handwringing over the federal election outcome began in earnest before the votes were fully counted on the West Coast.

Commentators from Central Canada reminded viewers of the serious regional divides exposed by the results, with the Bloc Quebecois gaining ground and the governing Liberals being shutting out across Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Yet in more than seven hours of live coverage, the most glaring omission was how little was said about B.C., which was a relative bright spot: multi-party federalism is alive and well in this province.

Conservatives “ran the table” in the Prairies, but in B.C., all four major national parties claimed victories.

The Conservatives increased their seat count to 17. The Liberals did enough to retain government, as this series predicted, capturing 11 ridings. Even the NDP, thought to be on the verge of a national collapse when the campaign began, captured 11 seats on the West Coast. And although the Greens again failed to break through as they were hoping, they won two seats on Vancouver Island.

Unlike Liberal cabinet ministers defeated elsewhere in Western Canada, several prominent Liberals won in B.C. Minister of Public Services Carla Qualtrough won in Delta; Fisheries and Oceans Minster Jonathan Wilkinson won in North Vancouver; and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan won in Vancouver South.

B.C. is likely to play a prominent role in the minority government, but some tensions will remain.

Independent candidate Jody Wilson-Raybould won her seat in Vancouver Granville, ensuring that the damaging SNC-Lavalin affair will not fade away quietly.

And one of the most sensitive dividing lines in Canada – whether to build or block oil pipelines to the coast – is well reflected in the final vote: Liberal Terry Beech, who broke ranks with the PM over the Trans Mountain pipeline, won his seat in Burnaby North–Seymour, while pipeline opponents for the Greens and NDP won in coastal communities.

According to recent polling data, just over half of British Columbians support building the Trans Mountain expansion, particularly those living in suburban and interior ridings represented by a mix of Liberals and Conservatives.

But on the coast, the electoral map is green and orange.

‘Issue-by-issue parliament’: Liberals need to placate NDP to be effective, expert says

Keeping the Liberal minority government viable may be tricky because of the pipeline issue, but the real impediment keeping the Greens and NDP from defeating the minority is a lack of funds and energy to run another campaign so soon after this one.

If the Conservatives ever hope to win government again, they will need to re-evaluate their opposition to climate change actions to appeal to more urban voters.

A case in point is the Lower Mainland, where Liberal policies will have a decidedly B.C. focus, from investments in regional transit infrastructure, to implementing a carbon tax, and balancing resource extraction and reduction of emissions.

While B.C. is definitely a bright spot in an otherwise challenging electoral outcome, the scope of the challenges ahead should not be underestimated. The “sunny ways” Trudeau talked about back in 2015 have definitely become cloudier.

ELECTION 2019: Here are the results from our 12 B.C. races to watch

With such a mixed result nationally, it is not surprising that there will be a reckoning for all parties.

The Conservatives must re-consider some strategic decisions they made in the 2019 campaign. Their American-style attack ads fell short of the mark, and despite leader Andrew Scheer’s defiant tone on election night, questions about whether he can ever defeat Trudeau will grow louder in the months ahead, especially if Trudeau regains some of the momentum he lost this year.

The NDP and Greens also have some reckoning to do. Elizabeth May has led the Greens for 13 year now, and rumours of a leadership change before the next election are growing. Although Jagmeet Singh celebrated on Oct. 21 as if his party had won Official Opposition status, the much-anticipated “Singh surge” was more of a ripple, sufficient to retain some seats, but not enough to boost his leadership position.

And Trudeau will have the tallest order of all. Having retained power despite self-inflicted wounds, he will need to deftly manage the many regional tensions this outcome exposes. That includes rising separatist sentiment in Quebec and Alberta, disappointment among Indigenous communities over insufficient action, and a battle over simultaneously increasing energy exports while decreasing carbon emissions.

Perhaps the most enduring image was the unprecedented scene of all three major party leaders speaking over each other in their televised post-result speeches, rather than waiting for each to speak in turn, as is customary.

KEEP READING: Election results means more tax for foreign buyers, little change on mortgages

The speeches, bombarding the audience as in during a food fight in a cafeteria, signalled that our political leaders failed to absorb a critical message from voters: Canada needs less empty campaign rhetoric and more humility to overcome the challenges we face as a nation.

Bruce Cameron, Black Press Media’s polling analyst, is the founder of Return On Insight. Follow him on Twitter @roitweets

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake physician part of COSMIC Medical group developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File Photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Wagon visit to Lhoosk’uz (Kluskus): part four

We had arrived at this remote Southern Carrier Nation village after dark… Continue reading

Freya Cockwill, 4, Lyra Cockwill, 6, and Haylee Sigurdson, 9, had some fun designing and painting face masks during the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy’s Family Fest in January of 2020 in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Watch for Tribune Reach-A-Reader edition Jan. 21

Read the Tribune newspaper on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 to learn more about CCPL and literacy

Residents are reminded to remain vigilant in following COVID-19 precautions as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Climbing COVID-19 cases prompts City of Williams Lake to increase response level

City leaders continue to press for more information from Interior Health

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read