liberals triumph in federal election

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1 liberals triumph in federal election Canada s 42nd general election, held on October 19, had an outcome that surprised many observers and one that will also bring about a dramatic change in government. After a 78-day election campaign the Liberal Party and its young leader Justin Trudeau pulled off a surprising upset and a stunning victory. He will be sworn in as the nation s 23rd prime minister on November 4. Big night for the Liberals The Liberals won 184 seats out of a possible 338 across the country, allowing their Members of Parliament (MPs) to form a decisive majority government. The victory was a remarkable comeback because the Liberals held just 36 seats when the election was called. No party in Canadian history has ever seen such an increase in a single election. Momentum began building on election day in Atlantic Canada where the party won all of the available 32 seats. They went on to win 40 seats in Quebec, 80 in Ontario and 12 seats in the prairie provinces, including four in Alberta Mr. Harper s home province. Seventeen Liberals were elected in British Columbia. Winners and losers For the Conservative and NDP parties, this election was a giant step backwards. The Conservative Party, which governed the country for 10 years under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, won just 99 seats. After the 2011 election, the party had a 167-seat majority. In the wake of these crushing losses, the party released a statement confirming that Mr. Harper would step down as leader of the party. However, he intends to keep his seat in the House of Commons representing the riding of Calgary Heritage. We put everything on the line. We gave everything we had to give and we have no regrets whatsoever, he told his followers after the election. Friends, how could we? We remain citizens of the best country on Earth. As for the NDP, led by Tom Mulcair, before the election it formed the Official Opposition in the House of Commons with 95 MPs. This time, after the ballots were counted, just 44 NDP members had won a seat. Mr. Mulcair plans to remain leader but, according to NDP party rules, will face a secret vote in April. Apart from the Liberals, the only party to gain some ground was the Bloc Québécois (BQ), which won 10 seats six better than its showing last election. Meanwhile, Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, was re-elected the only one in her party to win a seat. Definitions Bloc Québécois: political party created in 1993 to fight for Quebec independence green party: political party founded in 1983 that values ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence house of commons: where Members of Parliament meet in Ottawa to conduct business majority government: a government that holds the majority of seats in the House of Commons. A majority government is generally more productive than a minority government because the consent of other parties is not required in order for a bill to pass. members of parliament: Canada s federally elected representatives who each earned their seat after winning one of 338 riding races across the nation official opposition: the party with the second-most MPs in the House of Commons that publicly questions and critiques the party in power 2015/2016: Issue 3 What in the world? Level 2 Page 3

2 A break from the pack For many people, these results were a surprise. Throughout the campaign, the race was tight, with each of the three major parties rising to the top at one time or another, according to public opinion polls. However, by early October, Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals had broken away from the pack. The long campaign gave Mr. Trudeau a chance to let Canadians get to know him. That allowed him to overcome Conservative attacks that argued the 43-year-old former high-school teacher was too inexperienced to lead the nation. Mr. Trudeau called for modest deficits in the next three federal budgets to pay for improvements in the infrastructure of Canada s cities. He also promised to cut income taxes for middle-class Canadians and to increase taxes on the wealthiest one percent of the country. Some observers believe that was one of the factors that helped to successfully distinguish his party from the others. The work begins The morning after the election, Canadians learned that the prime Definitions minister-designate had already spoken to U.S. President Barack Obama about his promise to end Canada s combat participation in the air war against the so-called Islamic State. The two also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the historic 12-country trade deal that could mean major changes for the country s farmers, auto workers and its digital economy. Did you Know? More than 68 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in this election. That s the best turnout in over 20 years, and seven percent higher than in Turnout at advance polls was up 71 percent. Mr. Trudeau also said that he will attend the United Nations climate summit in Paris, which starts at the end of November. I will be engaging with the premiers in the coming weeks to establish a strong position for Canada so that people know that Canada s years of being a less-than-enthusiastic actor on the climate change file are behind us. Canada s vulnerable economy will likely be front and centre in his agenda as well. The price of oil, one of the country s most important exports, has dropped drastically in the past year, stalling economic growth. Another major commitment made during the campaign was to bring 25,000 government-sponsored Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of the year a tenfold increase over the previous government s record. An optimistic leader On election night, Canada s new leader made it clear that he was eager to put these plans and more into action. Canadians have spoken, Mr. Trudeau declared in his victory speech. You want a government with a vision, and an agenda for this country that is positive, and ambitious, and hopeful. Well, my friends, I promise you tonight, that I will lead that government. I will make that vision a reality. I will be that prime minister. J deficit: an excess of expenses over income infrastructure: the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly islamic state: a radical militant group that has seized territory in eastern Syria and across northern and western Iraq Page 4 What in the world? Level /2016: Issue 3

3 ON THE LINES Answer the following in complete sentences: 1. How many Members of Parliament sit in the House of Commons? 2. Name the five largest political parties in Canada that fielded candidates in the recent federal election. 3. Which party won the most seats? Explain why this was significant. 4. List the regional distribution of Liberal seats across Canada. 5. What promises regarding government spending and taxes did the Liberal Party make during the election campaign? 6. How many seats did the Conservative Party win and why was this significant? 7. How many seats did the NDP win and why was this significant? 8. List at least three priorities or concerns that the new Liberal government will deal with in the near future. 2015/2016: Issue 3 What in the world? Level 2 Page 5

4 BETWEEN THE LINES An inference is a conclusion drawn from evidence. A plausible inference is supported by evidence in the article and is consistent with known facts outside of the article. What inference(s) can you draw from the fact that voter turnout (68.49%) was the highest since 1993 and up 7% from 2011? BEYOND THE LINES Under our first-past-the-post (FPP) electoral system, each of the 338 seats in Parliament goes only to the candidate who won his or her local election race. This means that, despite earning less than half of all votes (39.5%) the Liberals were able to win more than half of the seats (54.4%). Meanwhile the Green Party received 3.5% of votes nationally but only its leader was able to win her riding and occupy a seat in the House of Commons. Under a system of proportional representation (PR), her party would have been granted 3.5% of the seats for a total of 12. The Liberals have promised that this will be the last election to use a strictly FPP system. They will be consulting Canadians and researching other systems around the world. They could use your help. Pick a country that uses proportional representation (such as Finland or Israel) and learn the advantages and disadvantages of both methods. Should we change to full PR, stay the same, or try to find a middle ground? Write a recommendation for Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals. JUST TALK ABOUT IT 1. Mr. Trudeau and his team have a lot of work to do on both local and global priorities and promises. Rank them, first to last, according to your priorities. Explain your choices. What concerns do you have, if any? 2. This year s Student Vote mock election organized by CIVIX to promote democracy amongst youth was a huge success. More than 850,000 students at approximately 6,000 primary and secondary schools cast a ballot. Teachers were provided with videos, lesson plans, and other resources to prepare their students. The result? A Liberal majority that won the support of 37.5% of the voters. Conservatives received 26% and the NDP earned 19.8%. What would you see as the positives and negatives of lowering the voting age to 16? What is your own opinion? ONLINE Visit our student website at and click on the What in the World? tab to: 1. Interact with detailed results and the new electoral map of Canada (or visit results-2015/). 2. Relive election night by watching the YouTube video Federal Election 2015: Election Boiled Down to 8 Minutes (or visit J Page 6 What in the world? Level /2016: Issue 3

5 Images in the News Write the inner and outer dialogue for the person in this scene. Show what the person is thinking/feeling (inner voice) and saying (outer voice). A believable conversation conveys appropriate ideas, thoughts, feelings or reactions; is on topic; extends the details of the scene; and is convincing. Canadian Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau leaves Parliament Hill for a press conference in Ottawa on October 20, (EPA/ Chris Roussakis) Prepared with assistance from TC 2, The Critical Thinking Consortium /2016: Issue 3 What in the world? Level 2 Page 7

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