THUNDER BAY – It all comes down to the decision made by people putting a little “x” on a little piece of paper. Canadian voters have sent Liberal leader Justin Trudeau a challenge and a message with their votes. That message was a minority government.
In a campaign that saw some very prominent political figures lose their seats, including Ralph Goodale in Saskatchewan, Trudeau told Canadians last night, “I’ve heard your frustration and I want to be there to support you. Let us all work hard to bring our country together”.
“We will govern for everyone. Regardless of how you cast your ballot, ours is a team that will fight for all Canadians,” added Trudeau.
The Liberal Party was shut out in both Saskatchewan and Alberta.
In Northwestern Ontario, the Liberals went into the election with all three seats, with the loss of Kenora to the Conservatives, the Liberals have a total of only four seats from the Lakehead to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
In Alberta, the Conservatives took a whopping 70 per cent of the popular vote, while Saskatchewan was not far behind with the Conservatives capturing 67 per cent.
There are great tensions in the west, and discussions of western separation are stirring again. Further, the Bloc is back in greater numbers than before.
Does that mean confederation is at risk? Time will tell.
In this election campaign, the fact is it was mostly the leaders who dominated the frontlines of the national campaign.
For both Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau that meant some revelations which damaged their personal brands.
For Justin Trudeau, it was the ‘Brown-face’ controversy and continued questions on SNC-Lavalin. For Andrew Scheer, it was allegations the Conservatives were digging dirt on the People’s Party and the information that Scheer was a “clerk in an insurance office”.
Perhaps the reality is Justin Trudeau is going to have to rely on some of his more seasoned members of the cabinet in the early going of the next parliament. Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Patty Hajdu can play an important and stronger role in this area.
Effectively Hajdu is now the senior Liberal representative from Thunder Bay to Banff and Jasper.
Over time, MPs from Thunder Bay have held very powerful roles in government.
This election, leaving the sunny smiles and positive disposition that led Trudeau to his first election victory four years ago, is now ancient history.
Justin Trudeau now faces new challenges. His leadership and style while they gained him enough seats for a majority received a trip to the political penalty box last night.
It will be a mark of his political and personal maturity to see how Justin Trudeau takes responsibility and starts sharing the load as the Liberal Party moves forward.