Some political observers, analyzing the recent federal election point to Lester Pearson as a Prime Minister that made minority government work. Looking back, it is incredible indeed that Pearson managed to govern for five years as a minority prime minister, but more important, was able to pass transformational legislation in a divided parliament. From 1963 to 1968 the minority government passed legislation creating the Canada Pension Plan, National Medicare and a new Canadian Flag. In Pearson’s final year in office, his Justice Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau passed legislation that decriminalized homosexuality and reformed Canada’s divorce laws. The current Trudeau is not likely to be able to achieve as much. The 2019 political landscape is far more polarized than it was in 1963. Back then, Parliament was dominated by lawyers and businessmen, admittedly mostly males, who were more used to the give-and-take necessary to make deals. That is not the case now where the Old Progressive Conservative party of Pearson’s day is now replaced by the Conservative Party of Canada—quite a different creature in terms of philosophy. Trudeau’s biggest challenge will be getting the Trans-Mountain pipeline built—an absolute necessity if the Western alienation is to be assuaged in any way. Trudeau appears to be finding the language he will use to sell the project, suggesting revenue from the pipeline will be used to hasten the transition to green energy. It’s a bit of a stretch, and won’t satisfy environmentalists; but the alternative is to consign two provinces to economic Armageddon. It is possible as some observers suggest that Trudeau could get three, or even four years out of this minority. All federal parties are flat broke right now and will not want to risk an election for at least a couple of years. The Conservatives may be looking for a new leader. The NDP have had their worst showing since 1984, and do not have, as some suggest, the balance of power. That lies with the Bloc Quebecois which is only concerned about issues affecting Quebec, and without the need to make any formal deals, will quietly support the status quo unless the government is foolish enough to provoke Quebec. Another factor that nobody wants to talk about that will almost certainly guarantee Trudeau at least two years without an election is that there were more than 200 rookie MPs elected in 2015. They all become eligible for Parliamentary pensions if the current government can survive past October 21, 2021.
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