The first decision Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes will likely be to reshuffle his cabinet. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The first decision Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes will likely be to reshuffle his cabinet. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

OTTAWA — The Liberals have once more won the most seats in the House of Commons, but this time they do not have an outright majority. So what happens next?

With fewer than the 170 seats needed to command the House on their own, Justin Trudeau will need the support of at least one other party to pass legislation in Parliament — and survive a confidence vote on a speech from the throne laying out his plans for governing.

Before then, Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s results.

Trudeau is still the prime minister and Canada is technically still in the same “ministry” — essentially, the same cabinet or administration — as before the election.

However, the first decision Trudeau makes will likely be to reshuffle his cabinet, considering Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi lost their seats.

Trudeau’s next decisions will be to set a time for Parliament to reconvene. Technically, the Governor General summons a new Parliament, but does so on the advice of the prime minister.

The timing of reconvening the House has varied throughout Canadian history. In 2015, it took over a month for MPs to be called back to Ottawa, though a new cabinet was sworn in far earlier than that. Given that there is less dramatic change than in that year, it’s possible we may see Parliament return sooner.

When the new Parliament sits, its very first order of business will be the election of a Speaker. Geoff Regan, the current Speaker, was re-elected to his Halifax-area seat Monday but isn’t automatically returned to the position.

The longest-serving MP in the House will preside over that election. Louis Plamondon, a Bloc MP, will oversee the proceedings for the fourth time — Plamondon has held his Quebec seat since 1984 and was comfortably re-elected.

And it’s after the election of the Speaker that the main event begins, with a speech from the throne. In the speech, the government will lay out its priorities and hint at what direction it will take in the new Parliament.

The speech from the throne is also the first opportunity for opposition parties to try to bring down the government in a confidence challenge. Since the Liberals have less than a majority of seats, they will need to make sure they can secure at least 170 votes to keep the confidence of the House and their grip on power.

Trudeau has a few options. For one, he might bet that no party will want to bring down the government and potentially force another election — or otherwise give the Conservatives the opportunity to form government.

In that case, Trudeau would not make any agreements with the opposition parties, bet that he would survive a potential confidence vote anyway, and from there see if he could secure support on an issue-to-issue basis.

But if he wants a more stable situation, Trudeau could make a more formal deal with another party to secure its support on confidence matters, an arrangement dubbed a “confidence and supply” agreement.

Such an deal is in place in British Columbia, where the NDP are in government and maintain a parliamentary majority thanks to support from the provincial Greens.

At the federal level, the most likely partner for such an agreement would be the NDP under Jagmeet Singh. During the campaign, Singh laid out six priorities for supporting another party in a minority, including pharmacare, investments in housing and action on climate change.

In exchange for maintaining the minority government, the NDP would expect to influence government policy on these files.

It’s possible that the Liberals could form a formal coalition with another party — in which members of the other party serve in cabinet — to maintain a majority, though this is unlikely.

The Bloc also has enough seats to sustain a Liberal government if it chooses to do so.

However they get there, the goal of the Liberals will be to make sure they have at least 170 votes for confidence challenges and pieces of major legislation.

Whether Trudeau wants to cut a deal with another party or take it vote by vote is up to him.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is now on the path to grant degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Problems with vagrancy in downtown Red Deer were behind a push to build a 24/7 shelter in the city. Nearly a year after a $7 million commitment from the province, there is little movement on this "top priority" project. (Advocate file photo).
Little progress on ‘top priority’ 24/7 homeless shelter project for Red Deer

No details can yet be provided by the city or province

Blackfalds RCMP are investigating two suspicious fires that happened in Lacombe County in November. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta man charged for exposing himself in public

The man was charged under similar circumstances in 2019

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Adam Hadwin, of Canada, chips to the second green during the first round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matt Slocum
Adam Hadwin hopes to hit reset button in 2021 starting with American Express

Adam Hadwin hopes to hit reset button in 2021 starting with American Express

Japan's Yuto Totsuka competes during the men's World Cup freestyle halfpipe snowboard event in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary runs out of runway to host world freestyle, snowboard championships

Calgary runs out of runway to host world freestyle, snowboard championships

Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio (21) celebrates his goal during extra time MLS playoff soccer action against the D.C. United, in Toronto on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Osorio says a lot has changed with the Canadian national team since he first came to camp in 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Jonathan Osorio upbeat about what lies ahead for Canadian men’s soccer team

Jonathan Osorio upbeat about what lies ahead for Canadian men’s soccer team

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, centre, celebrates his goal with teammates during second period NHL hockey action against the Vancouver Canucks in Calgary, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. Just three games into a condensed season, the Calgary Flames are already on a break. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
After a strong start, Calgary Flames get early breather in short NHL season

After a strong start, Calgary Flames get early breather in short NHL season

Edmonton Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl (29) hits Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Zach Hyman (11) during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Oilers’ Draisaitl scores winner as showdown with Maple Leafs fails to live up to hype

Oilers’ Draisaitl scores winner as showdown with Maple Leafs fails to live up to hype

Conservative MP Derek Sloan arrives to a meeting in Ottawa on September 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
MP Derek Sloan ejected from Conservative caucus for “destructive behaviour”: O’Toole

MP Derek Sloan ejected from Conservative caucus for “destructive behaviour”: O’Toole

Former truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu walks into the Kerry Vickar Centre for his sentencing in Melfort, Sask., on Friday, March 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2008, file photo, Elliott Broidy poses for a photo at an event in New York. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
Trump’s pardon largesse a boon for well-connected fraudsters

Trump’s pardon largesse a boon for well-connected fraudsters

Most Read