Canada's federal election has historic results

By Mike Kastner, NTEA Managing Director

This article was published in the December 2015 edition of NTEA News.

Canadian history was made Oct. 19, 2015. Just a few weeks before the election, polls showed the New Democratic Party (NDP) falling to the low 20-percent range. The race had narrowed to the Conservatives and Liberals. Almost all political analysts believed the election would result in either a Conservative or Liberal minority government, but the results proved otherwise.

Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, prevailed with a majority government, winning 184 of 338 seats in the House of Commons. Never before has a political party come from being the third party to forming government. Conservatives will be official opposition with 99 seats, and NDP will come to Parliament Hill with only 44 seats. The Bloc Québécois was successful in regaining a base of operations in Quebec, winning 10 seats, and the Green Party received only one seat — one less than before the election.


Recent promises from the Liberal campaign, which are relevant to NTEA members across the country and will be on the Association’s radar, include:

  • Invest $200 million annually for three years to help research facilities, small business incubators and exporters, and authorize another $100 million per year for an industrial research assistance program.
  • Increase federal infrastructure support from the current $65 billion to almost $125 billion in the next decade. Provide new, dedicated funding to provinces, territories and municipalities for public transit, and social and green infrastructure.
  • Establish the Canadian Infrastructure Bank to provide low-cost financing for new infrastructure projects.
  • With a refocused Building Canada Fund, promote a steadier flow of goods and business travelers by modernizing border infrastructure and streamlining cargo inspections.
  • Give $500 million to the provinces for skilled trades training, and devote $200 million to federal training programs.
  • Employment Insurance (EI) premiums drop to $1.65 per $100 earned from $1.88. That’s less than the $1.49 rate the Tories committed to in the 2015 budget, but Liberals say the extra money would be reinvested, with $500 million going to the provinces for skills training. Reduce the wait for a first EI payment from two weeks to one at a cost of $710 million.

The heavy infrastructure focus is a positive development for the work truck industry. The Liberal Party has not indicated specific plans for key sectors of mining and energy — important end-use markets for NTEA members. However, the group has highlighted the need to strengthen relations between Canada and the United States.

The path forward

Although Parliament has not confirmed when it will resume, indications suggest a return in early December, along with a speech from the Throne. Prime Minister Trudeau revealed his cabinet — the first-ever with gender equality — on Nov. 4, 2015, including 31 ministers. In the next few weeks, further appointments will be announced, such as Parliament secretaries and committee members. Ministers noteworthy for NTEA members follow.

  • Chrystia Freeland, minister of international trade, is a well-known Canadian writer and journalist, first elected in 2013.
  • Marc Garneau, minister of transport, was first elected in 2008. His background includes history with the Canadian Navy. He was the country’s first astronaut in outer space and has worked for both NASA and the Canadian Space Agency.
  • Catherine McKenna, minister of environment and climate change, is a former legal adviser and negotiator for the United Nations and co-founded Canadian Lawyers Abroad.
  • Amarjeet Sohi, minister of infrastructure and communities, previously served as Edmonton City Councillor, working on several infrastructure and urban development projects.

As the ministers become familiar with their new portfolios and committee members are established, the government will begin to fulfill campaign promises. Initial areas of focus for the incoming government will likely include:

  • Reducing income taxes for those making $45,000–$89,000 a year, with the creation of a new tax bracket for people with annual earnings above $200,000.
  • Working to add 25,000 Syrian refugees by year-end to relieve the Middle East crisis, promising to spend $100 million in the current fiscal year for processing and sponsorship.
  • Launching a public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal females.
  • Stopping the planned purchase of American F-35 fighter jets and beginning a transparent procurement process to replace antiquated C-18s.
  • Bringing together all Canadian premiers to discuss and agree on a national climate change strategy prior to the Paris Climate Change Conference.
  • Beginning the marijuana legalization process — a task which will eventually fall under provincial jurisdiction.
  • Changing Canada’s role in combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant by ending aerial bombings in Syria and increasing contributions to training Iraqi forces.

Both Conservative and NDP caucuses and political leaders will have significant internal reviews in the coming months. Stephen Harper has already stepped down as leader of the Conservative party but intends to remain a Member of Parliament. Rona Ambrose was named Conservative interim leader Nov. 5. NDP leader Tom Mulcair, on the other hand, has chosen to stay with the party “for the long haul.” Both groups have lost many of their strongest candidates, including a number of Conservative ministers.

It’s important to note unlike divisions between Democrats and Republicans in the United States, Canada’s Conservatives and Liberals are not substantially different on major policy matters. While U.S. investors will find business as usual in Canada, the new prime minister could help reset the fractious relationship between the two countries. Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama have already had a productive conversation, recommitting to strengthen joint efforts to promote trade and combat terrorism and climate change.

NTEA’s government relations office in Ottawa will monitor developments, including committee member selection, leadership changes within opposition parties, and progress on campaign promises.

If you have any questions regarding the information in this article, please contact Mike Kastner at 202-552-1600 or