Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?


OTTAWA — The Liberals have once more won the most seats in the House of Commons, but this time they do not have an outright majority. So what happens next?

With fewer than the 170 seats needed to command the House on their own, Justin Trudeau will need the support of at least one other party to pass legislation in Parliament — and survive a confidence vote on a speech from the throne laying out his plans for governing.

Before then, Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s results.

Trudeau is still the prime minister and Canada is technically still in the same “ministry” — essentially, the same cabinet or administration — as before the election.

However, the first decision Trudeau makes will likely be to reshuffle his cabinet, considering Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi lost their seats.

Trudeau’s next decisions will be to set a time for Parliament to reconvene. Technically, the Governor General summons a new Parliament, but does so on the advice of the prime minister.

The timing of reconvening the House has varied throughout Canadian history. In 2015, it took over a month for MPs to be called back to Ottawa, though a new cabinet was sworn in far earlier than that. Given that there is less dramatic change than in that year, it’s possible we may see Parliament return sooner.

When the new Parliament sits, its very first order of business will be the election of a Speaker. Geoff Regan, the current Speaker, was re-elected to his Halifax-area seat Monday but isn’t automatically returned to the position.

The longest-serving MP in the House will preside over that election. Louis Plamondon, a Bloc MP, will oversee the proceedings for the fourth time — Plamondon has held his Quebec seat since 1984 and was comfortably re-elected.

And it’s after the election of the Speaker that the main event begins, with a speech from the throne. In the speech, the government will lay out its priorities and hint at what direction it will take in the new Parliament.

The speech from the throne is also the first opportunity for opposition parties to try to bring down the government in a confidence challenge. Since the Liberals have less than a majority of seats, they will need to make sure they can secure at least 170 votes to keep the confidence of the House and their grip on power.

Trudeau has a few options. For one, he might bet that no party will want to bring down the government and potentially force another election — or otherwise give the Conservatives the opportunity to form government.

In that case, Trudeau would not make any agreements with the opposition parties, bet that he would survive a potential confidence vote anyway, and from there see if he could secure support on an issue-to-issue basis.

But if he wants a more stable situation, Trudeau could make a more formal deal with another party to secure its support on confidence matters, an arrangement dubbed a “confidence and supply” agreement.

Such an deal is in place in British Columbia, where the NDP are in government and maintain a parliamentary majority thanks to support from the provincial Greens.

At the federal level, the most likely partner for such an agreement would be the NDP under Jagmeet Singh. During the campaign, Singh laid out six priorities for supporting another party in a minority, including pharmacare, investments in housing and action on climate change.

In exchange for maintaining the minority government, the NDP would expect to influence government policy on these files.

It’s possible that the Liberals could form a formal coalition with another party — in which members of the other party serve in cabinet — to maintain a majority, though this is unlikely.

The Bloc also has enough seats to sustain a Liberal government if it chooses to do so.

However they get there, the goal of the Liberals will be to make sure they have at least 170 votes for confidence challenges and pieces of major legislation.

Whether Trudeau wants to cut a deal with another party or take it vote by vote is up to him.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 22, 2019.

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press


  1. A liberal majority gov’t would have continued the disaster we’re in now. A liberal/ndp coalition, the edge of the cliff will arrive that much sooner !!! This is a fact !!! Personally, if I was younger, I would move to Alberta & help spearhead a separation movement out of this once proud Country. Many that I talk to that support either the liberals or ndp, simply blabber about what free stuff they’re getting under a liberal/ndp coalition.You can’t make this completely irrational way of thinking up. Who’s going to pay for it guys !!! The $20 Million dollar earners are already buying a 1 way ticket out of this Country & taking their Canadian investments elsewhere. What is it about this that seems so hard to understand? The gov’t can’t take care of us if the private investors are heading for the border.Good luck to all of us who will be left behind to pay the maxed out credit cards that will NO DOUBT, be created by this liberal/ndp coalition.Remember, look for the EXIT sign at the border. Can’t miss it – it’s bright RED !!!


    In my CHOICE, of perspective, there definitely is some relief because of the outcome of the election in SAULT STE.MARIE.

    For anyone reading who does not know that is a City, in the DISTRICT of ALGOMA located on the NORTHERN side of the INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE. Not in the USA. All are in the CONTINENT of NORTH AMERICA.

    I was born in ITALY, EUROPE to immigrant parents . We were a household of five, at that point relocating to the named CITY. Transportation from the Continent of Europe was via ship across an ocean to an eastern coastline. Many others in my understanding were also in that big boat.

    Then I was a baby of about 7 months in around 1953/54.

    Getting back to POLITICS referring to who all CHOSE to cast a vote.

    It is not 100 % clear to me nor could it be to anyone else, in my findings, why more votes went to the person with RED/WHITE signs. I mean than in particular who had the BLUE/WHITE ones.

    Would you, kindly, not jump to the conclusion that I liked before or now the Federal, Provincial or Municipal situations.

    In clarification no matter whatever the color of signs, titles or names.

    My submission is not necessarily with content that the owner or staff of this Sault Online operation is in agreement or who all else.

    I am an independent thinker, communicator and contributor without wrong motive or purpose

    There is no reasonable, doubt ,whatsoever in my own mind.

    Long Time Sensible Public Activist

  3. Maybe he taps Mayor Christian Provenzano to run the affairs of state? Provenzano cleaned up the Sault waterfront by removing the Norgoma. Maybe he can do the same in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces?

  4. idk…96/100 people I know didn’t vote him in, how he won can only be swept under the carpet. I hate to see the state on Ontario after 4 more years, i’m sure we’ll be close to 60% tax by then, we’re at 43 atm. disgusting just disgusting and now his 2017 tax plan will go into effect in Jan…good luck to all my fellow Ontarionians!

    • How does a vote of no confidence work in Canada?
      At least 35 members of parliament (MPs) have to support a proposal to initiate such a vote. A majority of MPs (175 members) must vote in favour of a declaration of no confidence for it to be successful. … If the prime minister loses the no confidence vote, his/her entire government must also resign.

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