John Ivison: Trudeau’s desire for a majority is on a collision course with voter antipathy


It’s clear that Justin Trudeau believes the time is right to try to regain his parliamentary majority. But it’s not apparent how he plans to convince voters they should share his enthusiasm. The mood in the House of Commons was fractious before the summer break. But it will be hard for the prime minister to make the case to Canadians that the opposition parties are blocking his recovery agenda, given the House passed a budget implementation bill that contained $143 billion in new spending. The Liberals’ core electoral proposition appears to be that “We were brilliant at running the country in a minority but we’d be even more brilliant if we had a majority.” There are echoes of Lester B. Pearson’s pitch in the 1965 election. Pearson won a minority two years earlier and urged voters to give his Liberal Party a majority for “five more years of prosperity.” He didn’t get it. As his senior adviser, Tom Kent, recalled in a 2009 article in Policy Options magazine, “voters were apparently pleased enough with what we were doing to give no credence to the plea that we needed a majority in order to continue. The November 1965 election left the parliamentary balance virtually unchanged.”

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