Some day in the not too distant future, we may be off to the ballot boxes again. Casting that vote is not something to be taken lightly; the outcome affects our entire country. Before we all head off yet again to the polls, perhaps an overview of the past election results may be helpful. Better yet, why not a general review of every federal election in the past 26 years?
Who’s running the country?
1979 – A particularly bitter battle between the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party results in a PC-headed minority government led by Joe Clark despite the Liberals receiving a larger portion of the popular vote. The PCs win 136 seats with only 35.9% share of the popular vote. Pierre Trudeau leads the Liberal Party with 114 seats (40.1% share of the popular vote) and the New Democrat Party (NDP), led by Ed Broadbent, wins 26 seats with 17.9% of the popular vote. The Social Credit Party reaches an unusual high of six seats, all in Quebec.
1980 – Pierre Trudeau wins a majority government with 147 seats (44.3% of the popular vote), and Joe Clark’s PCs form the Official Opposition with 103 seats (32.5% of the popular vote). Broadbent’s NDP makes large gains across the country and wins 32 seats with 19.8% of the popular vote.
1984 – Brian Mulroney leads the PCs to a huge win with 211 seats and a 50% share of the popular vote. The Liberals come in second place with 40 seats (28.8% share of the popular vote), led by John Turner. The New Democrats remain at 19.8% of the popular vote, but win only 30 seats.
1988 – Particularly high voter turnout (76% of the registered electorate) gives Mulroney a second term, but a reduced majority. Turner’s Liberals make gains to reach 32% of the popular vote and take 83 seats. The NDP, led for the last time by Ed Broadbent, continues to expand its voter base with 20.4% of the popular vote and a whopping 43 seats.
1993 – With a completely different political backdrop than its predecessor, this election is the first to include the Bloc Quebecois (BC), the Reform Party, and a drastically reduced Progressive Conservative Party. Kim Campbell had inherited the PC-headed Parliament from Mulroney, but failed miserably to keep up the party’s influence and popularity. Reform bursts onto the scene led by Preston Manning and takes votes away from PC with their strong conservative views. Reform scores highly in western Canada, the BQ strikes a blow for French Canada and the PCs shrink into the background. Jean Chrétien makes his debut as the first Liberal Prime Minister in nearly 10 years with 41.3% of the vote and 177 seats. Lucien Bouchard and the Bloc Quebecois make up the Official Opposition (13.5% vote share, 54 seats); Audrey McLaughlin’s NDP take an enormous thrashing with a mere 6.7% of the vote and only 9 seats. Kim Campbell holds onto 16% of the vote but only wins 2 seats in Parliament.
1997 – The Liberals win a majority Parliament for a second time, still headed by Jean Chrétien (38.5% vote share, 155 seats). The conservative vote is split between the PCs and Reform; Reform takes the Opposition spot with 60 seats and 19.4% vote share. PCs get 18.8% of the vote, but only take 20 seats. Support for the Bloc Quebecois falls after the defeated Separation Referendum in 1995, and the party wins 44 seats with 10.7% of the vote. The New Democrats rise again to win 21 seats with 11% of the vote.
2000 – Chrétien is Prime Minister yet again. His Liberals make the most of the continually fracturing conservative alternative and win 172 seats (40.8% of the vote). Another conservative metamorphosis results in the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Party, and they receive 25.5% of the popular vote (66 seats). Stockwell Day leads the formation of the Opposition Party. PC’s support goes down to 12.2% (12 seats), and the Bloc votes stay the same, but the party wins fewer seats (38). The NDP are headed by Alexa McDonough and lose most of the gains previously won in ’97. Her party receives 8.5% of the vote and 13 seats.
2004 – Last year’s election resulted in a Liberal minority government, with Paul Martin acting as Prime Minister. Martin was given power before the election when Jean Chrétien retired prior to completion of his term, however Martin was not able to keep the Liberal Party as popular as had its former leader. The Liberals won 135 seats with 36.7% of the popular vote. In this election, the conservative electorate had a unified choice in the Conservative Party of Canada, after a merger between the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives. The new party received 29.6% of the vote share, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, and 99 seats. Gilles Duceppe strengthened the BQ and won an astounding 54 seats with 12.4% of the vote. Jack Layton played for another NDP comeback and received 15.7% of the popular vote along with 19 seats in Parliament. For the first time in a Canadian federal election, the Green Party, led by Jim Harris, received enough of the popular vote to run a federally-funded campaign next time around.
So there you have it — an eternal struggle between Liberal Party and the Conservative Party of the day. It’s clear that citizens of this country are somewhat stuck in the idea of two party politics. Though, I question if it is time for people to truly vote their conscience, instead of voting for the lesser of two evils?
Elections Canada (2005). Past elections. Retrieved May 23, 2005, from http://www.elections.ca/intro.asp?section=pas&document=index&lang=e&textonly=false
Georgetown University and the Organization of American States. Political Database of the Americas: Canada. Retrived May 23, 2005, from http://cfdev.georgetown.edu/pdba/Countries/countries.cfm?ID=44