Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau wave as they go on stage at Liberal election headquarters in Montreal, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

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

Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s result

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.

READ MORE: All but one federal leader re-elected in their ridings, results show

READ MORE: Liberals return with minority government in Election 2019

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.

ELECTION 2019: Here are the results from our 12 B.C. races to watch

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)
A family’s close encounter with a grizzly on Babine River bridge

Photo-enthusiasts let the bear access the bridge for photos putting others at risk

Vehicles waiting for the highway to reopen. (Shashank Bangera photo/Lakes District News)
Vehicle incident claims life on Highway 16 east of Burns Lake

The accident resulted in highway closure

The victim of a homicide in Houston is Pietro Adamo. (Photo courtesy the RCMP)
Man dies from injuries following assault

Investigators looking for information on this homicide

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read