Was election 2021 worth it?

Canada’s 44th federal election is in the books, and it is post-mortem time.

Locally, Elections Canada confirmed that Cape Breton-Canso Liberal incumbent Mike Kelloway won with 46 per cent of the vote, up from his 2019 showing of 38.5 per cent.

Conservative candidate Fiona MacLeod with 35 per cent, and Jana Reddick for the NDP, at 14 per cent, were unable to increase their party’s results from the 2019 election.

However, People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Brad Grandy increased his party’s showing in the riding, almost doubling their vote total from 2019.

Liberal incumbent Sean Fraser took 46 per cent of the vote in Central Nova, while Conservative candidate Steven Cotter had 32 per cent, NDP candidate Betsy MacDonald received 16 per cent, and PPC candidate Al Muir came away with four per cent; an increase over the two per cent they received two years ago.

Whether this current movement to the PPC is a pandemic phenomenon given the party’s stance on vaccinations and public health restrictions, or the start of improved political fortunes for the party, will only be confirmed next election.

While the Liberal vote either increased or remained healthy, in both ridings, the NDP and Conservatives were unable to increase their numbers from 2019.

Federally, Elections Canada has Justin Trudeau’s Liberals leading a minority government with 158 seats, Erin O’Toole’s Conservative Party with 119 seats, the Bloc Quebecois 34 seats, the NDP 25 seats, and the Green Party with two seats.

Coming during the fourth wave of a global pandemic, starting in the middle of the summer, and with no noticeable change in the seat distribution once the votes were counted, the Prime Minister has received his share of criticism about the timing and rationale for dissolving parliament.

While all that is true, given the gravity and unprecedented nature of this challenging time, this was a good time to pass judgement on what has been done by the federal government since COVID-19 first arrived almost two years ago.

In that time, the governing Liberals, with assistance from the NDP and Greens, have made historic decisions with far-reaching consequences; implementing strict public health restrictions like closing the Canadian-United States border, spending billions on COVID-19 response and recovery, and asking for sacrifices from Canadians.

Holding the election in 2022 or 2023, after more important decisions were made, more public money was spent, and more people were put in difficult situations would be an abdication of the government’s responsibility to the public it serves.

Democracy is at its best when those in power are held accountable, and in this system, there is no better way to accomplish this than the ballot box.

It’s conceivable that – given the NDP’s financial state and the leadership void in the Green Party, neither will be in a rush to return to the polls, as well as the progressive leanings of the BQ – this minority government will survive for some time, possibly long enough to take control of COVID-19, and make the difficult choices to get there.

And at that time, Canadians will once again get to weigh-in and decide where the country is going. The time limit on this minority parliament will depend on how the parties work together, and given the stakes, hopefully the government and opposition can work for the common good for at least the next two years.

This election was necessary, and over time that might be confirmed, it’s just not apparent from the results.