The final seat count is still up in the air but the Liberals will remain in power with another minority government.
A government with a majority needs to have at least 170 seats, and liberals shy away from that goal by more than 10 seats. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will keep his job for now, and for his team, the main task today is simply to get back to work.
Nevertheless, there are some formal programs and decisions to be made, and some results still to be finalized before newly elected MPs can take their seats.
So what happens next?
Like the previous parliament, which, regardless of the election, is going to be almost identical to the next parliament, Trudeau would need the help of another party to pass a law or get a budget. The NDP served that role largely in previous parliaments and most expect it to remain so.
Trudeau won so many seats that talk of a formal alliance is unlikely.
But first the ballots have to be counted to determine how many seats he has actually won. There are several seats where the margin of victory is very small, including two possible Liberal victories at Edmonton Center and Vancouver Granville.
There are more than 780,000 mail-in ballots in total, and they will not be counted until later today. Elections Canada warned that some rides could take up to four days to complete the count.
Trudeau will have to reshuffle his cabinet after he lost at least two cabinet ministers in Nova Scotia to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Ontario Women’s Minister Mariam Moncef. Senior minister Deb Schulte was also in his suburban Toronto last night.
Infrastructure Minister Katherine McKenna did not run this time, which could have opened up space for four ministers and four women, as Trudeau has committed to gender equality in cabinet.
Two years ago, Trudeau waited a full month to reshuffle his cabinet, but this year the fourth wave of the pandemic is still raging with just a month left for the G20 leaders’ summit and the UN climate summit Well, Trudeau might not have to wait long enough to get it. A new team has been formed.
He would also have to set a date from the throne for his next speech, which would set the government’s agenda for the next parliament. Again, two years ago, Trudeau waited more than six weeks to bring forward the throne speech, and he waited a month in 2015.
The duty to formally convene the new parliament rests with Governor General Mary Simon, but she will act on Trudeau’s advice.
So while his cabinet is likely to come soon, Canadians can wait until mid-November for parliament to resume.
How lawmakers reconcile is also potentially up in the air. When Parliament rose ahead of the election it was still in pandemic mode, with approval from the House of Commons for virtual meetings and committee hearings.
All those approvals have been disbanded with parliament and new agreements to be reached if virtual meetings and voting are to resume. A virtual meeting can make it very difficult for any new House of Commons to proceed with the first order of business for the election of a speaker because it must be done by secret ballot.
Former speaker Anthony Rota was leading in his northern Ontario ride last night, but he doesn’t get his speaker job back if he is declared the winner.
The Speaker’s election will be presided over by the House bloc’s longest-serving MP, Luis Plamondon, who won his seat again and will do so for a fifth time. Lawmakers figure out how to vote on legislation virtually, but secret ballots are rare in parliament.
Any negotiation to hold that vote, or further meetings of Parliament with virtual ceremony, would require negotiations between the parties.