The 2015 Canadian Federal Election: A Milestone In Our History

Margaret Wang, Staff Writer

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On October 19, 2015, Canadian citizens elected a new prime minister, a new government we trust to uphold power. The writs of election (an issue ordering the holding of an election) were issued by Governor General David Johnston on August 4th of 2015.  The country’s longest election campaign, spanning 78 days, had been an interesting mix of locally important issues and national strategy, and one of the most competitive campaigns in Canadian history.

Over 17 million Canadians cast a ballot in the 42nd federal election, Canada’s highest voter turnout since 1993. Statistics from Global News show that over 68% of eligible Canadians voted during the election, an increased turnout of 8% in comparison to the 2011 federal election. The Liberal Party received 39.5% of the popular vote and 184 seats in the House of Commons, forming a majority government. The Conservative Party led by incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper won 99 seats, becoming the Official Opposition after nine years in power. The NDP won 44 seats, and 11 other seats were distributed between Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party.

The Conservative Party continues to dominate the province of Alberta (on the federal level of government). Justin Trudeau’s Liberals carved out a small but historic beachhead of four seats at the base of the Conservative fortress. Darshan Kang and Kent Hehr, both former provincial legislature members, became the first federal Liberals elected in Calgary in almost half a century.

Justin Trudeau used his maiden speech as prime-minister designate to initiate the “healing process” for wounds torn open during the diverse election campaign. “We beat fear with hope; we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together,” Trudeau remarked, “to know that a positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naïve dream. It can be a powerful force for change.”

The Liberal Party has promised to accept a series of budget deficits to fund major infrastructure spending that would in turn boost the economy. This differs greatly from the Conservative and NDP platforms, both of which promised to balance budgets. There will be a tax hike for Canada’s top 1%, to pay for a tax cut for the country’s middle class. Canadians with an annual salary of $200,000 or greater would see a tax hike of around 4%, while those earning between $44,701 and $89,401 would see a cut of around 1.5%, according to the Globe and Mail. Trudeau has been targeted for his support of legalizing marijuana – a drug that he says has needlessly left many Canadians with criminal records and cost the government too much in law enforcement. More Liberal policies regarding refugees and voting system amendments can be found on the official webpage of the Liberal Party.

The Prime Minister’s swearing-in ceremony took place on November 4th, the same day Trudeau unveiled his diverse and gender-balanced cabinet to the country. Asked by reporters why it was important to give half those jobs to women, Trudeau replied: “Because it’s 2015.”

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