After three consecutive terms as the governing party, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have been ousted.
The federal election on Monday saw the number of Conservative seats tumble from 166 down to 99.
This federal house cleaning has handed the reigns of our country to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
With 184 of 338 seats in the House of Commons, the Liberals have a majority government.
From the start, the election was Harper’s to lose as much as it was Trudeau’s to win.
A strong anti-Harper sentiment, which had grown over the past four years, played a large part in Monday’s outcome.
Canadians were determined to ensure the Harper Conservatives would no longer have the same degree of power they had enjoyed previously.
Long before the writ was dropped, a growing degree of polarization of Canadian politics had already ensured the outcome would not be good, no matter which party formed the next government.
While the Liberals won a majority of seats, they did not have a majority of voter support.
Of the ballots cast, 39.5 per cent were for Liberal candidates, which means 60.5 per cent were for representatives of other parties.
And if the eligible voters who did not cast ballots are included, the number becomes even more telling, with just 27 per cent of eligible Canadian voters casting ballots for a member of Trudeau’s Liberals.
Canadians may have rejected Harper’s Conservatives, but the outcome is not exactly a ringing endorsement for the Liberal Party, despite the majority outcome.
This puts the newly elected Liberals in much the same position as the Conservatives they have replaced.
In the May 2, 2011 federal election, the Conservatives received a majority of 166 seats of the 308 in the House of Commons, but of those who voted, only 39.62 per cent chose a Tory candidate. If all eligible voters were counted, then only 24 per cent of Canadians cast a ballot for a Conservative in that election.
This is an unenviable position for the newly elected Liberal government.
It is possible that by the time of the next federal election, four years from now, the tide will have turned once again and voters will want an “Anyone But Trudeau” outcome.
Whether this happens is up to the federal Liberals.
Not all Canadians support the platform and position of the incoming Liberals. In fact, a majority of voters in this year’s election chose something else.
This is a time for the newly elected majority government to act as if the outcome were a minority instead.
This is a time to listen to the views of all Canadians and to make decisions respecting a variety of views.
In short, it’s a time for humility and dialogue.
The day after his win, Trudeau greeted people in a Montreal subway station. This is a great start.
Canadians have elected a new government, or more precisely they have replaced an old one.
The fact that the Liberals are not Tories may have helped to put them into power, but it will not be enough to keep them there.
Trudeau’s challenge now is to show himself and his party as worthy of the respect and admiration of the Canadian public.
Now it’s time for the Liberals to establish themselves as more than the party that replaced the Conservatives.
And it’s time for the Canadian public to let them prove themselves.
John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.