At the time of writing, Canadians from coast to coast were heading to polling stations to cast their ballots, and the election’s outcome was still hours away.
The longest federal election campaign in modern Canadian history had come to an end.
So now what?
There was much speculation about the possible outcomes in the lead up to election day. Would it be a minority or majority government? Would some form of coalition emerge? Who would actually form government?
It’s impossible to answer those questions without knowing the election’s outcome, but regardless of Monday’s results, Canada’s next government will have its work cut out for it.
The post-election list of tasks is lengthy.
A cabinet must be named.
A date needs to be set for Parliament’s return, with many pundits speculating that may not happen until after Christmas.
A throne speech needs to be written and its commitments presented to both Parliament and Canadians.
The pressure on a government to deliver a throne speech that will garner support from other members of Parliament and political parties is high, particularly in minority situations.
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The throne speech is considered a confidence motion, which means the government must resign if Parliament doesn’t adopt it. The matter is then sent to the governor general, where he is tasked with determining whether other parities are in a position to form a government.
Internationally, there’s a major United Nations climate change conference in Paris in early December, which both Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Tom Mulcair, along with several premiers, including Alberta premier Rachel Notley, have identified as a top priority.
It’s widely expected Canada will face increased pressure to improve its environmental record at the climate change conference, which could affect high carbon industries such as agriculture and the energy sector.
Then there’s the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, whose negotiations were finalized during the election campaign.
The final text of the agreement is still being drafted and with an American election looming, the fate of the TPP remains up in the air. U.S. president Barack Obama has identified the TPP as a top priority for his administration.
Depending on what happens in the U.S. Congress, Canada’s next government may be forced to address the TPP early into its mandate, whether it wants to or not.
There are also questions around the compensation package promised to Canadian dairy, poultry, and egg farmers.
IPolitics’ Elizabeth Thompson reported that the federal cabinet had stopped short of legally committing to the measures necessary to authorize the $4.3 billion compensation package. The Conservatives, Thompson reported, are not planning to adopt those measures until TPP is ratified.
The Pacific trade deal is not the only political issue coming down the pike that affects farmers.
After the rail crisis of 2013-14 stranded millions of tonnes of grain across the Canadian Prairies, the federal government, spurred by transport minister Lisa Raitt, fast-tracked a review of Canada’s rail transportation system.
The review, commonly referred to as the CTA review, has been ongoing since June 2014. The panel’s highly anticipated final report is expected by the end of the year. The panel is headed by former trade and foreign affairs minister David Emerson.
Farmers and stakeholder groups raised Canada’s grain transportation system as an election issue. The federal Conservatives included a commitment to improve the service in their campaign platform, pending the review’s findings.
The NDP has also promised to improve rail service for Canadian farmers. The Liberals did not mention rail transportation in their party platform but have repeatedly demanded a full-costing review in the House of Commons.
Farmers will closely watch the government’s response to the CTA review, which will make it difficult for the government to delay its response or ignore the panel’s findings.
Last, but certainly not least, Canada’s next government will have to start working on the next federal budget, which is to be presented to Parliament before the end of the fiscal year.
Time to get to work.