Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Canadian federal election, 1968
Trudeau, who was a relative unknown until he was appointed to the cabinet by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, had won a surprise victory over Paul Martin Sr. in the party's leadership election earlier in 1968. The charismatic, intellectual, handsome, single, and fully bilingual Trudeau soon captured the hearts and minds of the nation, and the period leading up to the election saw such intense feelings for him that it was dubbed "Trudeaumania." At public appearances, he was confronted by screaming girls, something never before seen in Canadian politics.
The Liberal campaign was dominated by Trudeau's personality. Liberal campaign ads featured pictures of Trudeau inviting Canadians to "Come work with me", and encouraged them to "Vote for New Leadership for All of Canada". The substance of the campaign was based upon the creation of a "just society", with a proposed expansion of social programs.
The principal opposition to the Liberals were the Progressive Conservative Party led by Robert Stanfield. The party was still smarting from the nasty infighting that had led to the ousting of leader John Diefenbaker. Stanfield was widely respected, but the public image of him was crystallized by a photo of him fumbling a football. He was viewed as being an honourable man, but perhaps not the one to make the big decisions.
The Conservatives also ran into trouble with their policy on Quebec: the Conservatives had reversed their traditional policies, and embraced the idea of deux nations, meaning that their policies would be based on the idea that Canada was one country housing two nations - French Canadians and English-speaking Canadians. As Conservative candidates began to renounce this policy, the party was forced to backtrack, and late in the campaign, ran ads signed by Stanfield that stated that the PC Party stood for "One country, one Canada".
Trudeau had more success, promoting his vision of a Canada whole and indivisible.
On the left, legendary socialist Tommy Douglas led the New Democratic Party, but the party had difficulty running against the left-leaning Trudeau, who was himself a former supporter of the NDP. Under the slogan, "You win with the NDP", Douglas campaigned for affordable housing, higher old age pensions, lower prescription drug prices, and a reduced cost of living.
This election was the last time that the Social Credit Party won federal seats in English Canada. On the other hand, the Ralliement des créditistes (Social Credit Rally), the Québec wing of the party that had split from the English Canadian party, met with great success. The créditistes were especially strong in rural ridings and amongst poor voters. Party leader Réal Caouette campaigned against poverty, government indifference, and "la grosse finance" (big finance). Caouette gave voters the impression that his party was the only one that truly belonged to the people. The créditistes were a populist option appealing to Québec nationalists and social conservatives.
The results of the election were sealed when on the night before the election a riot broke out at the St. Jean Baptiste Day parade in Montreal. Protesting the Prime Minister of Canada's attendance at the parade, supporters of Quebec independence yelled Trudeau au poteau [Trudeau to the gallows], and threw bottles and rocks. Trudeau, whose lack of military service had led some to question his courage, firmly stood his ground, and did not flee from the violence despite the wishes of his security escort. Images of Trudeau standing fast to the thrown bottles of the rioters were broadcast across the country, and swung the election even further in the Liberals' favour as many English-speaking Canadians believed that he would be the right leader to fight the threat of Quebec separatism.
|Party||Party Leader||# of|
|Before1||After||% Change||#||%||% Change||Liberal||262||128||155||+21.1%||3,686,801||45.37%||+5.18%||Progressive Conservative||262||94||72||-23.4%||2,548,949||31.36%||-1.05%||New Democratic||263||22||22||-||1,378,263||16.96%||-0.95%||Ralliement créditiste||72||8||14||+75.0%||360,404||4.43%||-0.22%||Independent||29||2||1||-50.0%||36,543||0.45%||-0.23%|
|Independent Liberal|| ||11||-||-||-||16,785||0.21%||-0.01%||Rhinoceros||2||-||5,802||0.07%||+0.07%||Communist||William Kashtan||14||-||-||4,465||0.05%||x|
|Independent PC|| ||5||1||-||-100%||2,762||0.03%||-0.14%|
|Esprit social||H-G Grenier||1||-||-||-||311||x||x|
|New Canada||Fred Reiner||1||-||148||x|
|Sources: http://www.elections.ca History of Federal Ridings since 1867, Toronto Star, June 24, 1968.|
1 "Before" refers to party standings in the House of Commons prior to dissolution, not the results of the previous election.
x - less than 0.005% of the popular vote
Results by province
|Parties that won no seats:|
xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote.
See: 28th Canadian parliament for a full list of those elected in the 1968 election.
- Voter turnout: 76% of the eligible population voted.
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