Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
39th Canadian federal election
There is no certainty that a federal election to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons will be held in Canada in 2005, but it is a very strong possibility. Due to recent poltical events, there is a widespread political belief amongst pundits that an election will take place in the spring or summer of 2005. There is no legal requirement to hold the 39th general election before 2009.
An election in 2005 is possible because the 2004 federal election held on June 28, 2004, resulted in the election of a Liberal minority government. In the past, minority governments have had an average lifespan of a year and a half. Some pundits consider the current minority to be particularly unstable. It involves four parties, and only very implausible ideological combinations (e.g., Liberals + Conservatives, or Liberals + Bloc Québécois) could actually command a majority of the seats.
These combinations may happen on certain issues, but are not likely to stand as stable governing coalitions. The Liberals, New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc could form a voting coalition on decriminalization of marijuana, or endorsing the Kyoto Accord. It was in fact be a quasi-coalition of Liberals and Conservatives, that saw the Conservatives abstain en masse on the vote, that ensured the government's survival on the motion of confidence surrounding the budget. The Conservatives had expressed support to the tax cuts and defence spending therein.
The two largest parties, the Liberals and Conservatives, are both low on funds to run a campaign, and new campaign finance laws make it far harder to raise funds. It seems unlikely that there will be an early election if these two parties are unwilling to go to the polls. However, the Bloc Québécois is very eager to have an election because of resurfacing anger in Quebec against the Liberals and in particular, the sponsorship scandal. In the short term, it is believed that Canadians do not want to return to the polls, and would likely punish any party that brings down the government without very good reason.
It is also worth noting that, while the average lifespan of a minority government overall is about 18 months, Liberal minorities have historically lasted much longer than Conservative minorities. However, previous Liberal minorites were able to push legislation through with the support of the Progressive Party, and later, the NDP. This will not be the case in the 38th Parliament.
It is a common misconception that the government can be brought down by losing any vote in the House of Commons. In actual fact, only the loss of a Motion of Confidence can force an election or a change of government. If an election were to occur in 2005, it would most likely follow one of the mandatory confidence votes. The first of these was the vote on estimates in December 2004. The 2005 federal budget would have been a more likely time for the government to lose a vote of confidence. The federal budget was presented in February, but the government was not defeated. In Canada's last minority parliament, the 31st Canadian parliament under Prime Minister Joe Clark, the government was brought down on the budget's confidence motion.
If the government believed that its popularity had improved significantly since the last election, it could have added measures to the budget that would be unacceptable to the opposition and thus forced an election. Instead, the Liberal government tabled a budget that the opposition Conservaties deemed acceptable, thus probably ensuring its passage. The Conservatives originally pledged their support, then abstained to allow the main budget motion to pass but are now musing about opposing the budget implementation bill.
An election in 2005 would involve the same 308 electoral districts as in 2004, except for in New Brunswick, where the boundaries of Acadie-Bathurst were deemed illegal. Many of the candidates would also be the same. Fewer incumbents would choose to leave than if they had served a full term, and the parties have generally blocked challenges to sitting MPs for the duration of the minority government (although there are some exceptions, for example Calgary MP Jim Prentice may be challenged for his Conservative nomination by Craig Chandler due to his views in favour of same-sex marriage. Most Tory MPs have been protected from such challenges at the riding level).
Issues that are likely to play a major role in any new election
- Sponsorship scandal: This issue continues to be a hinderance for the governing Liberals. The Liberals are currently being attacked and will undoubtedly continue to be hammered by the opposition on this issue, particularly by the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois, especially after court hearings in early 2005. Recent signs of a media leak of documentation by a United States-based website has intensified the debate and strengthened the opposition, as new and sharp details have come out in the Gomery inquiry. It will likely be the #1 issue in the next election. An April 14th CBC poll shows it and government leadership as being the top election issue, even ahead of health care.
- Health care: This is a perennial top issue in Canada. Prime Minister Paul Martin increased funding for health care in 2004 by $41 billion, however there are many debates resulting from the announcement. Quebec agreed to a separate deal and that may not be popular in other parts of Canada. In addition, many on the political right, who want a true two-tier system, and left, who want a completely socialized system with absolutely no private influence, are unhappy over the amount of public influence in the system.
- Social issues : While traditionally a non-issue in Canada, the results from the U.S. election of 2004 appear to be motivating the Christian Right, especially in the rural areas, and bringing issues like abortion and same-sex marriage to the forefront, especially after the likely passage of the same-sex marriage bill, expected to be in mid-2005. Most Conservatives are moderately or strongly pro-life, and the large majority oppose legal recognition of same-sex marriage, while the Liberals are generally divided on abortion, they endorsed same-sex marriage as party policy but some members are in strong disagreement. Most of the Bloc Quebecois and most New Democrats are strongly pro-choice and are strong supporters of same-sex marriage.
- Fiscal imbalance: All major parties except the Liberals claim that there was a fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces and speak of plans to reduce it. The Bloc Québécois is the most vocal party on this issue. Several provincial governments have also spoken out on the issue.
- Taxation: The Conservatives propose to lower taxes significantly. They believe that this would stimulate the economy. In 2004, the Conservatives promised to end "corporate welfare" and replace it with tax cuts for all businesses. The Liberals, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP opposed large tax cuts, and argued that money should instead be spent to improve social programs. Huge surpluses ($9.1 billion in 2004) have increased the appetite for tax cuts. The 2005 budget implemented relatively modest tax cuts which have been denounced by both the right (who demanded much greater tax relief) and the left (who believed corporations and higher-income Canadians should have to pay higher taxes).
- Parliamentary reform: The Conservatives accused the Liberals of perpetuating "undemocratic practices" in Parliament, by limiting the powers of MPs. Martin called for some reform, but it never materialized. The Conservatives promised an elected Senate and standing committee and provincial review of judicial appointments. The NDP spoke of abolishing the Canadian Senate - all parties claim to want to reform it. The appointments of nine Senators on March 24, 2005 has intensified the debate, it has angered many Conservatives, especially in Alberta.
- Electoral reform: The Conservatives promised fixed election dates. The NDP and the Green Party promote the idea of proportional representation voting -- these parties win a considerably smaller proportion of seats in the House of Commons than of the popular vote under the current first past the post system. Meanwhile, referenda will be held in British Columbia in May 2005 on using single transferable vote in future provincial elections and in November 2005 in Prince Edward Island on using mixed proportional representation. Ontario is also considering such reforms. Changes at the provincial level will put pressure on the federal government to make similar changes.
- National Missile Defence: The Bush administration in the U.S. wants Canada to join the missile shield. Most Conservatives (including their party policy) strongly support such a plan, while the Bloc, the NDP and many Liberals strongly oppose it. Prime Minister Martin announced in February 2005 that Canada will not join the missile shield; that has upset some Liberals who supported missile defence.
- Gun registry: Many Conservatives strongly oppose the gun registry while the other parties generally support it. A few Liberal backbenchers have spoken against the registry.
- Parliament stability: Public opinion polls suggest that any new election held soon will result in another minority government. This may reduce the appetite for a new election and punish whoever forced the election.
- Canada-US relations: This issue has divided Canada more than ever since the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Most Conservatives believe that closer relations with the United States (such as a North American security perimeter and deeper integration through NAFTA) are necessary for economic and political reasons. Most of the Bloc and NDP believe that Canada needs to move away from the US, especially with the re-election of Bush in 2004. The Liberals are deeply split, with many on both sides.
In the wake of Jean Brault's testimony at the Gomery Inquiry and its release on April 7, several polls have been commissioned to gauge the fallout for the Liberals. The results of these polls, among other factors, will have an influence on the timing of any non-confidence motion by the Opposition.
|Ipsos-Reid||April 9||34||30||15||10||-||(Polling for this data mostly occured before testimony was released)|
Targets are the ridings that the parties had their highest percentage of the vote without winning. Winning party shown in brackets. Up to 20 are shown, with a maximum margin of victory of 15%
Cabinet ministers who won by less than 5% in 2004
- Liza Frulla, Canadian Heritage: 0.2% over BQ in Jeanne-Le Ber, QC
- Ethel Blondin-Andrew, Northern Development: 0.3% over NDP in Western Arctic, NT
- Pierre Pettigrew. Foreign Affairs: 1.1% over BQ in Papineau, QC
- Anne McLellan, Deputy PM/Public Safety: 1.4% over Cons. in Edmonton Centre, AB
- Tony Valeri, House Leader, 1.9% over NDP in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek , ON
- Aileen Carroll, International Cooperation, 2.6% over Cons. in Barrie, ON
- David Emerson, Industry, 3.1% over NDP in Vancouver Kingsway , BC
- Jacques Saada, Quebec Economic Development, 4.9% over BQ in Brossard—La Prairie, QC
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Prince Edward Island
- Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick
- British Columbia
- Northwest Territories
- The first number in the Number of Candidates row is the number of officially confirmed candidates. The second number (in italics) is the number of ridings with rumored or possible candidates (nomination battles count as one candidate).
|Party||Party Leader||# of|
|Before1||After||% Change||#||%||% Change||Liberal||Paul Martin||2 (4)||132||Conservative||Stephen Harper||8 (24)||99||Bloc Québécois||Gilles Duceppe||1 (1)||54||New Democratic||Jack Layton||1 (3)||19||Green||Jim Harris||-||-||Christian Heritage||Ron Gray||-||-||Marijuana||Blair Longley||-||-||Progressive Canadian||Ernie Schreiber||-||-||Marxist-Leninist||Sandra L. Smith||-||-||Canadian Action||Connie Fogal||-||-||Communist||Miguel Figueroa||-||-||Libertarian||Jean-Serge Brisson||-||-||Independent||0 (1)||3|
|Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867|
1 "Before" refers to standings in the House of Commons at dissolution, and not to standings at the previous election.
- November 18 - Outspoken Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish was dismissed from the Liberal caucus by Prime Minister Martin for making statements critical of the Liberal Party and the prime minister. She now sits as an independent.
- December 16 - Liberal MP Lawrence O'Brien died of cancer. A by-election in his riding, Labrador, has been called for May 24.
- February 23 - Finance Minister Ralph Goodale presents the 2005 federal budget to the Canadian House of Commons. The Conservatives abstained on the vote, which was held on March 9, ensuring the government's survival for the time-being.
- March 31 - Testimony by Jean Brault, former president of Groupaction at the Gomery Commission is considered so damaging to the Liberals that many speculate that an election may be held soon. The details of the testimony are not publicly revealed due to a publication ban imposed by Mr. Justice Gomery.
- April 7 - Justice Gomery lifts the publication ban on much of the testimony just minutes before question period. Opposition parties launch a full assault on the government with the new evidence.
- April 11
- An EKOS /Toronto Star poll shows the Conservatives leading the Liberals 36% to 25%. This is the first time since before the 1993 election that a party has led the Liberals by more than the margin of error.
- Liberal MPs David Kilgour and Pat O'Brien both muse about crossing the floor to the Conservatives. O'Brien says at least three others are considering a similar move.
- April 13 - David Kilgour leaves the Liberal caucus to sit as an Independent, he says he will not run as a Conservative but does not confirm whether or not he will seek re-election as an Independent or leave politics at the end of the 38th Parliament.
- April 14 - Despite his earlier musings, Pat O'Brien announces he will remain in the Liberal caucus.
- April 20 - Prime Minister Paul Martin announces that he will address the nation at 19:45 ET the following day.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details