We’ve got a Minority Government. Now What?

Barrie 360 Political Correspondent Weighs in On Minority Governmets

The Liberals saw a narrow victory Monday night, staying in power, but at the cost of several seats. Now a minority government, the Liberals have their work cut out for them.

“For some people, they’re going to be very excited about a minority government,” says Barrie 360 Political Correspondent Dr. Michael Johns, Laurentian University Political Science Professor, “other people will not be overly used to it.”

While Canada has had 13 minority governments in its history, including three consecutive ones between 2004 and 2011, it still represents unknown territory for some. “I think that one of the things, a narrative you’ll hear for the next little while, that needs to be corrected,” says Dr. Johns, “there is nothing unusual about a minority government, or a coalition government in our system. There is nothing undemocratic about it. Our electoral system doesn’t elect parties. When we all voted in our ridings, there was not a list of political parties and we picked the party we liked.”

Dr. Johns says elected officials from hundreds of ridings must find a way to work together. “Each election is unique to itself, in fact, there are 338 unique elections that took place. Once they get to Parliament, they then have to organize themselves into a government, that’s what our constitution demands. How they do that, as all equal representatives of one riding, it’s up to them.”

As it is a minority, the Liberal party will have to work closely with other parties, maybe even ceding to demands. “Those parties are going to be able to dictate some things.” adds Dr. Johns, “They’re going to say ‘if you want our support, you’ll have to do certain things.’ That is how most parliaments around the world operate.”