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Election night predictions

Maclean Kay’s assessment of the major parties' (we’re being veeeeery generous with ‘major’) best- and worst-case scenarios for tonight.


Best case: Voters shrug off the scandals, stick to what feels safe and familiar, and return the Liberals to a slightly smaller majority. Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott both lose their seats to Liberal candidates, saving Justin Trudeau the headache of occasionally taking questions from them.

Worst case: Andrew Scheer unexpectedly wins a (slight) Conservative majority, with the Liberals as Official Opposition. Calls for Trudeau to step down grow louder, and items like Catherine McKenna’s new signs that conspicuously fail to mention Trudeau or even the Liberal Party (seriously, they’re not even red) suddenly become significant.

Most likely: The Liberals win fewer seats than the Conservatives, but convince some combination of the Bloc Quebecois, NDP, and Greens to support them in a minority government. As we’ve learned in British Columbia, Trudeau is the incumbent prime minister, and as such gets first shot at forming government.


Best case: Ever-so-narrow majority government. And by ever-so-narrow, I mean three or four seats.

Worst case: The ABC (Anybody But Conservative) vote rallies around the Liberals, and the Tories fall short in too many crucial tight races in BC and Ontario, sending Andrew Scheer to an uncertain future as opposition leader.

Most likely: Like Trudeau, Scheer will come out of this either prime minister or opposition leader. One persistent national trend in Canada is that Conservative support tends to underpoll and overdeliver, so a majority isn’t out of the question. But I think the Conservatives end up with the most seats, but short of a majority, and – probably – government.


Best case: Jagmentum is real, and the NDP play kingmaker in a Liberal minority government. Still, the upper stratosphere for their support seems to be around 25%.

Worst case: Jagmentum is real, but confined to the Twitter Bubble. The party loses most of its seats in Quebec, gets squeezed out in a few tight races in BC, and all that online momentum dissipates into the ether.

Most likely: No matter how Real and Authentic and Handsome Jagmeet is, the NDP seems fated to fare poorly in Quebec. It holds onto a few tight races in BC, and settles back into a comfortable third place, just ahead of the Bloc Quebecois. No matter who “wins” or how many seats his party wins, Singh is probably the only federal leader absolutely guaranteed to keep their job.

Bloc Quebecois

Best case: The Bloc almost runs the table outside Montreal, all but guaranteeing a Conservative or Liberal minority, with the Bloc in third place and suddenly very, very important.

Worst case: The Bloc comes up short in too many close three- or four-way races, and remains marginal. For long-term BQ strategists, a Liberal majority heavy on francophones is probably the scenario that most undermines what the party is selling.

Most likely: I think the Bloc will have a good night. Quebec voters seem to understand the more likely a minority government, the more leverage they’ll have. Why choose sides when you might get to dictate terms and pick the winner?

Green Party

Best case: 10% and 5 or 6 seats looks like the outer limits of possibility. The best case depends on what happens elsewhere, and whether those 5 or 6 seats are crucial for a stable minority government.

Worst case: More of the same for Elizabeth May – liked by the national media (though noticeably less so), safe in a small Vancouver Island fortress…and that’s kinda it. The NDP fends off the implicit challenge by taking off the gloves – one wonders if May wishes she retained Warren Kinsella. The party winds up with the same two seats and a vote share stuck in the single digits, and May really has no choice but to step down as leader.

Most likely: The Greens are more or less guaranteed to keep May’s fiefdom, seem comfortable in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, are legitimately competitive in two or three more Vancouver Island seats, and might conceivably surprise in a riding here and there with a four- or five-way race. Beyond that, there be dragons. You have to squint awfully hard to see an outcome significantly better or worse than three seats.

People’s Party

Best case: Bernier wins his seat, and scrounges just enough votes that might have otherwise gone Conservative. Look, even getting mentioned here is a win.

Worst case: Complete annihilation, and the PPC joins Mel Hurtig’s National Party in the dustbin.

Most likely: Put it this way: I don’t see them winning any seats.

Maclean Kay is Editor-in-Chief of The Orca