Analysis of Canada’s 2015 elections

Canadian politics has been in a remarkably fluid place over the past 30 years.

It may not seem like it considering how the Liberals and Conservatives are still the only two parties to be in government.

But since 1984, we’ve seen the rise of six new political parties, all of which have held seats in the House of Commons: Reform, Bloc Quebecois, Canadian Alliance, Conservative, Green and Forces et Democratie.

We have also seen the New Democratic Party’s most successful election results in its history, the meteoric fall of the traditional Liberal Party and the realignment of the political spectrum with the rightward swing of the Conservative Party of Canada.

In addition, fluxes on the provincial level have been from the disappearance of some parties —Social Credit in British Columbia, Union National in Quebec and Progressive Conservative in Saskatchewan — to the surprising dynasties of Liberal parties in Ontario and British Columbia.

Canada is in the process of a political realignment and it shows given the number of political parties that don’t know where they lie on the political spectrum.

In the 2014 election in Ontario, the Liberals were politically to the left of the NDP on certain issues and in 2012, Alberta PCs became the centrist party with the rise of the Wildrose.

This brings us back to the feds and the election that will occur sometime between May and October of next year.

On Nov. 17 of this year there were two by-elections held for seats in the House of Commons: one in the Alberta riding of Yellowfield and one in southern Ontario riding of Whitby-Oshawa.

Both by-elections were to replace Conservative members of parliament and both people elected were from the Conservative party.

However this isn’t politics as usual for Canada. The Liberal Party candidates in both by-elections received a monumental increase in support — 17 per cent in Alberta and 26 per cent in Ontario.

Justin Trudeau has shaken things up and the 2015 election will have a distinctive effect on future elections no matter who wins.

With that being said, here is the path to 2015 and beyond for the six parties in the House of Commons.

To the Bloc Quebecois and Forces et Democratie: figure yourselves out or face oblivion. Historically, any time two parties split one voting demographic, both sides falter because of it — the PCs and the Reform party in the 1990s, the Liberals and the NDP now and plenty of provincial parties as well.

You are two regional parties trying to capture an already small demographic vote that is only continuing to shrink.

If you two run against each other, it is incredibly likely that neither of you will exist this time next year.

To the Green Party: focus on British Columbia and local candidates. You have been seeing lots of success in British Columbia recently and can expect that to translate into votes if not seats at the federal level.

There is a growing green-energy movement in Canada and you have nowhere to go but up as long as you stay on message and don’t get bogged down in other controversial issues.

To the NDP: you are in trouble right now. Tom Mulcair is not resonating with Canadians as much as you want and Trudeau is a force to be reckoned with in terms of personality politics.

However you have a way out. Swing left decisively, and come out with more policies like your national day care strategy that will have wide appeal across the country with your base.

Give your base a reason to come out to the polls or suffer the same fate as the Democrats did in the United States midterm elections and be forced to consider uniting with the Liberals again as your electoral desires become futile.

To the Liberal Party: don’t screw up and don’t freak out. Trudeau seems to have a fair amount of good faith with Canadians and the few gaffes he has made so far have actually made some positive resonance surprisingly.

This will be his first election so he won’t have the smoothest run, but that doesn’t matter. Trudeau getting a majority in this election shouldn’t be the goal.

If he becomes prime minister and screws up, people won’t be quick to forgive him.

As long as he doesn’t lose seats he is doing his job well. The more familiar people become with him, the better it will be for his image because he exists at the intersection of his father and Rob Ford: he’s an everyman and an intellectual. That is a winning combo even if it takes more than one election.

To the Conservative Party: take a walk in the snow. You are no longer at the point where Stephen Harper winning is purely good for the party. You need to look for how to keep your image as the natural governing party of Canada alive. Harper needs to stay strong and calm as he has the past two elections and remind everyone why they look at him and see a prime minister. If that doesn’t win you the election it will protect your legacy from the damage and will let you give Harper’s successor a chance at beating an older Trudeau beyond 2015.

Should Harper manage another majority, it will make clear that the NDP and the Liberals need to work together or falter.

If the Liberals win a majority and the NDP fall back to third place, both Harper and Mulcair will resign and both parties will need to stake their claim on the Canadian political spectrum for the future.

If the Liberals falter and the NDP manages to take power with Mulcair as prime minister, the Liberals may need to consider uniting with the NDP to stay relevant.

More likely is a Conservative minority government, but be that the case, it just kicks the big question down the road.

How will Canada continue to exist with three parties on the left?

The Liberals, Greens and NDP have a lot of soul searching to do and the road past 2015 is far from clear for any of them.

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