News, Politics

Canadians Elect Liberal Majority Government, Justin Trudeau as PM

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Justin Trudeau in 2014. Image: Tholden28
Justin Trudeau in 2014. Image: Tholden28

Canadians will soon have a very different government in power.

In the federal election last week (Oct. 19), the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was defeated.

The Liberal party—led by Justin Trudeau—won the election. But the Liberals didn’t just win, they won by a landslide.

There are 338 Members of Parliament (MPs) in Canadian parliament. Another way of saying that, is that there are 338 “seats” in parliament. That’s important, because the party with the most MPs, or “seats” in parliament is the one that will be in power. Here’s how the vote went:

Liberals: 184 seats (54% of the MPs in parliament are Liberal)

Conservatives: 99 seats (29%)

NDP: 44 seats (13%)

Bloc Quebecois: 10 seats (3%)

Green Party: 1 seat (less than 1%)

So many Liberals were elected, that they are a “majority” government. That’s because there are more Liberal MPs than all of the other parties combined. (The Liberals have 184 and the other parties total 154).

That’s very important, because when a government wants to make a new law, the MPs vote on it. If a government has more MPs than all of the other parties, they will always win the vote (unless something very unusual happens).

So a majority government can make big changes, knowing that their ideas won’t be over-ruled.

And already, Justin Trudeau—who will officially be “sworn in” as the new Prime Minister on Nov. 4—has pledged to make many changes. For one thing, Trudeau said that half of his new cabinet (the MPs who will become his closest advisors) will be women. That means there will be more women in positions of power in the government. (Currently, there are twice as many men as women in cabinet, 27 to 12. Women make up just 30% of the cabinet.)

Canadians will stay tuned to find out what other changes Trudeau will make in the coming months.

Stephen Harper has resigned as leader of the Conservatives, although his party will form the “official opposition.” The NDP will step down to third place (it is currently the official opposition).

Related links
Here is an excellent article (from The Star) about how the transition to the new government will happen—including how Justin Trudeau will be sworn in.

The Canadian Parliament website lists all of the current (ie, Harper government) MPs.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
One of the changes outlined in this article is that Prime Minister Trudeau will ensure that half of his cabinet are women. Why do you think this is a priority for him?

Research the other changes Justin Trudeau has said he plans on making. Which changes stand out to you as being significant?

What changes would you make if you were Prime Minister?

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
Justin Trudeau has a famous father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who was Canada’s Prime Minister for 15 years (from April 1968 until June 1979 and again from March 1980 until June 1984). Do you think his family history will affect how he governs Canada? Why or why not?

Make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as evidence (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Language Feature: Natural disaster metaphors
Metaphors are words or phrases that are used to make a comparison between two nouns (people, places, things). They help people to paint a clear image in their mind when they are reading.

A metaphor used in this article is ‘landslide’. A landslide is when a large amount of land and mud fall very quickly down a hill. Landslides can be devastating as they can quickly cover homes, cars and businesses. In this article, Trudeau’s win is described as a landslide. In this case, the term describes something that occurs quickly and forcefully.

Other natural disasters are used to describe politics. Some examples include: tsunami, flood, hurricane, and avalanche. Write sentences using each of these terms as metaphors to describe a (real or imagined) political event.