2015 Canadian federal election
All 338 seats in the House of Commons
170 seats needed for a majority
A map of Canadian parliamentary ridings.
The 2015 Canadian federal election (formally the 42nd Canadian general election) was held on October 19, 2015, to elect members to the House of Commons of the 42nd Canadian Parliament. The writs of election for the 2015 election were issued by Governor General David Johnston on August 4. The ensuing campaign was one of the longest in Canadian history. It was also the first time since the 1979 election that a prime minister attempted to remain in office into a fourth consecutive Parliament and the first time since the 1980 election that someone attempted to win a fourth term of any kind as prime minister.
The Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, won 184 seats, allowing it to form a majority government with Trudeau becoming the next prime minister. Trudeau and the rest of his cabinet were sworn in on November 4, 2015. The Conservative Party, led by incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper, won 99 seats, becoming the Official Opposition after nine years on the government benches. The New Democratic Party, led by Thomas Mulcair, won 44 seats, becoming the third-largest party in the House of Commons, after having formed the Official Opposition following the 2011 election. The Bloc Québécois won 10 seats, the Green Party won 1 seat, and Strength in Democracy lost all its seats.
The Liberal Party's increase of 148 seats from the previous election was the largest-ever numerical increase by a party in a Canadian election. Prior to the campaign, the Liberals had held only 36 seats—the fewest seats ever held at dissolution by any federal party that won the following election. The Liberals also became the first federal party in Canadian history to win a majority of seats without having been either the governing party or the Official Opposition in the previous parliament, and this was only the second time a party went from having the third-most seats to the most seats (the first being in 1925). It was the second largest number of seats won in a federal election for the Liberals, the best being 191 in 1949. The election also had the highest voter turnout since 1993. Every party represented in the House of Commons except the Liberal Party recorded a decrease in its popular vote share.
Following the election, Harper conceded defeat to Trudeau and resigned as leader of the Conservative Party. Gilles Duceppe resigned as leader of the Bloc Québécois shortly after the election on October 22, 2015. Thomas Mulcair announced his intention to remain leader of the NDP, but was forced to step down in October 2017, after losing a party vote on his leadership in the spring of 2016.
The 2011 federal election resulted in the continuation of the incumbent Conservative government headed by Stephen Harper, while the New Democratic Party (NDP) became Official Opposition and the Liberal Party became the third party. The Bloc Québécois won four seats and the Green Party won one seat. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe resigned shortly after failing to win their own ridings. The Bloc Québécois lost official party status by failing to attain the minimum seats needed (12).
Bob Rae was chosen as interim leader of the Liberal Party. In July 2011 Jack Layton, suffering from cancer, temporarily stepped down as leader of the NDP because of illness, indicating his intention to return for the reconvening of Parliament in September. Weeks later Layton died of cancer and was given a state funeral. In March 2012 Tom Mulcair was elected leader of the New Democratic Party. In April 2013 Justin Trudeau was elected leader of the Liberal Party. Bloc Québécois leader Daniel Paillé stepped down in December 2013 and was eventually replaced in June 2014 by Mario Beaulieu, who in turn was later replaced in June 2015 by Duceppe. In late 2014, MPs Jean-François Larose of the NDP and Jean-François Fortin of the Bloc formed the new political party Strength in Democracy.
As set forth in the Fair Representation Act, the number of seats in the House of Commons to be contested in the 42nd Canadian federal election was 338, an increase of 30 seats from the 308 seats comprising the House of Commons of Canada of the 41st Parliament of Canada, at its dissolution.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper requested writs of election for a federal general election from Governor General David Johnston on August 2. The official proclamations were issued on August 4. The date of the vote is determined by the fixed-date Canada Elections Act. At 11 weeks, the campaign was the longest in modern Canadian history.
As a result of the 2012 federal electoral redistribution, the number of electoral districts was increased to 338, with additional seats based on population assigned to Alberta (6), British Columbia (6), Ontario (15), and Quebec (3).
|Party||English||French||Translation of French (unofficial)|
|Conservative Party||"Proven leadership for a strong Canada."
"Safer Canada/Stronger Economy"
"Protect our Economy"
|"Un leadership qui a fait ses preuves pour une économie plus forte"||"Leadership that has proven itself for a stronger economy"|
|New Democratic Party||"Ready for Change."||"Ensemble pour le changement"||"Together for change"|
|Liberal Party||"Real Change (Now)."||"Changer ensemble (maintenant)"||"Change together (now)"|
|Bloc Québécois||N/A||"Des gains pour le Québec"
"On a tout à gagner"
|"Gains for Quebec"|
"We have everything to win"
|Green Party||"A Canada That Works. Together."||"Prendre l'avenir en main"||"Take the future in hand"|
|Strength in Democracy||"Empowering our regions, uniting our strengths."||"Allier les forces de nos régions"||"Combine the strengths of our regions"|
184 / 338 (54%)
99 / 338 (29%)
44 / 338 (13%)
10 / 338 (3%)
1 / 338 (0.3%)
|Gain from (loss to)||2015|
|Swing analysis||Conservative to Liberal||NDP to Liberal||NDP to Conservative|
Results by province
|Independent and No Affiliation||Vote:||0.1||0.8||0.2||0.6||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.3||2.9||0.2|
|Party||Party leader||Candidates||Seats||Popular vote|
|%||pp change||% where|
|New Democratic||Tom Mulcair||338||103||95[d]||109||44||-57.28%||13.02%||3,469,368||−1,037,142||19.73%||−10.92pp||19.73%|
|Bloc Québécois||Gilles Duceppe||78||4||2||4||10||+150%||2.96%||821,144||−68,644||4.67%||−1.38pp||19.36%|
|Independent and no affiliation||80||0||8||0||0||0||0||49,616||−23,115||0.28%||−0.21pp||1.18%|
|Christian Heritage||Rod Taylor||30||0||0||0||0||0||0||15,232||−3,986||0.09%||−0.05pp||0.97%|
|Marxist–Leninist||Anna Di Carlo||70||0||0||0||0||0||0||8,838||−1,322||0.05%||−0.02pp||0.23%|
|Strength in Democracy||Jean-François Fortin||17||N/A||2[e]||N/A||0||0||0||8,274||*||0.05%||*||0.90%|
|Progressive Canadian||Sinclair Stevens||8||0||0||0||0||0||0||4,476||−1,362||0.03%||−0.01pp||1.03%|
|Animal Alliance||Liz White||8||0||0||0||0||0||0||1,699||+248||0.01%||−0.00pp||0.36%|
|Democratic Advancement||Stephen Garvey||4||N/A||0||N/A||0||0||0||1,187||*||0.01%||*||0.62%|
|Canadian Action||Jeremy Arney||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||401||−1,629||0.00%||−0.01pp||0.24%|
|Canada Party||Jim Pankiw||1||N/A||0||N/A||0||0||0||271||*||0.00%||*||0.72%|
|Seniors||Daniel J. Patton||1||N/A||N/A||N/A||0||0||0||157||*||0.00%||*||0.29%|
|Alliance of the North||François Bélanger||1||N/A||N/A||N/A||0||0||0||136||*||0.00%||*||0.22%|
|Source: Elections Canada (Final results)|
Traditionally, party leaders participated in at least two nationally televised debates during the federal election – at least one each in English and French. These debates were produced by a consortium of Canada's major television networks. In May 2015, the Conservatives said they would not participate in the consortium debates and instead would take part in as many as five independently staged debates in the run-up to the fall federal election. Ultimately, the Conservatives agreed to participate in a French-language debate organized by the consortium of broadcasters as one of their five debates. The New Democratic Party confirmed that Tom Mulcair would accept every debate where the prime minister was present. The NDP had previously confirmed its intention to participate in both of the consortium debates before Stephen Harper withdrew but ultimately only participated in the French language consortium debate which included the Conservatives. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attended the Maclean's, Globe and Mail, and French consortium debates; and the Liberals confirmed he would attend the other debates. The Bloc Québécois attended the French language consortium debate and confirmed its attendance at the French-language TVA debate. The Green Party attended the Maclean's and French language consortium debates, and confirmed its intention to participate in the English language consortium debate. Strength in Democracy, which had the same number of seats in the House of Commons at dissolution as the Greens and Bloc Québécois, were not invited to participate in any of the televised debates. The leaders of the party objected to their exclusion and launched a petition demanding that all parties represented in Parliament be invited to the debates. Other minor parties without representation in the House of Commons were not invited to participate in any of the televised debates.
|General||Harper, May, Mulcair, Trudeau||August 6||Rogers Media (Maclean's)||Paul Wells||Toronto||The debate included live translations into French, Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi. Aired live on City stations (English), CPAC (French), and Omni Television stations (all other languages); streamed live at the Maclean's website and all networks' websites, Facebook and YouTube; and on Rogers Media news radio stations.|
|Economy||Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau||September 17||The Globe and Mail and Google Canada||David Walmsley||Calgary||The first half of the 90-minute debate covered five central themes on the economy: jobs, energy and the environment, infrastructure, housing and taxation. The second half consisted of follow-up questions and questions sent in by voters. Aired live nationwide on CPAC in both official languages with an additional English feed in Ontario on CHCH, streamed live on The Globe and Mail's website, and distributed on YouTube. Uninvited Green Party leader Elizabeth May answered questions on Twitter live during the debate at an event in Victoria, British Columbia.|
|General||Duceppe, Harper, May, Mulcair, Trudeau||September 24||Consortium (CBC/Radio-Canada, CTV, Global, Télé-Québec) and La Presse||Anne-Marie Dussault||Montreal||The debate included live translation into English. Aired live in French on Ici Radio-Canada Télé and Télé-Québec stations, and participant networks' websites; and in English on CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, and participant networks' websites.|
|Foreign Policy||Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau||September 28||Aurea Foundation and Facebook Canada||Rudyard Griffiths||Toronto||Bilingual debate on Canada's foreign policy hosted as part of the foundation's regular Munk Debates. The debate consisted of six 12-minute segments, with two leaders debating for the first seven minutes and the third leader brought in to the debate for the final five. Aired on CPAC in both official languages with an additional English feed in Ontario on CHCH, streamed live on the Munk Debates website, and distributed on Facebook.|
|General||Duceppe, Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau||October 2||Quebecor Media (TVA)||Pierre Bruneau||Montreal||The debate focused on three themes: the economy, national security and Canada's place in the world, and social policies; the format consisted of six rounds of four-minute debate between two leaders, with an open debate section at the end of each theme. Aired live in French on TVA stations, Le Canal Nouvelles, and streamed on the TVA Nouvelles website; Aired with simultaneous interpretation to English on CPAC.|
The second Canadian federal election to significantly incorporate social media, the 2015 campaign was notable for the rise of new avenues of scrutiny for potential candidates. A number of damaging revelations for each of the major political parties late in the campaign led to calls for increased vetting amongst political strategists, academics and outside observers.
Evolution of voting intentions during the campaign leading up to the 2015 Canadian federal election to be held on October 19, 2015. Points represent results of individual polls.
Before the campaign, there were no limits to what a political party, candidate, or third party (corporations, unions, special interest groups, etc.) can spend: spending rules are only in force after the writs have been dropped and the campaign has begun. Because the election period is set longer than the standard 37-day election period, spending limits are increased in proportion to the length of the period.
|Candidates spending > 75% of limit||173||44||91|
|Candidates spending > 50% of limit||228||70||169|
Reimbursements for political parties and candidates
Political parties receive a reimbursement for 50 per cent of their election expenses during the writ period. Similarly, candidates (through their official agents) receive a reimbursement of 60 per cent of their election expenses during the writ period. Both reimbursements are publicly funded.
Elections Canada reports that during the financial quarter preceding the writ period, the Conservatives received $7.4 million in contributions, the NDP received $4.5 million, and the Liberals received $4.0 million. The NDP had the most individual donors at 48,314, followed by the Conservatives at 45,532 and then the Liberals at 32,789.
The New Democratic Party stated that it collected greater than $9 million in the third quarter of 2015, the most it ever received from donors, and greater than the quarterly record established by the Conservative Party in 2011.
At the riding level, financial reports in each of the 338 constituencies showed that in Conservative electoral district associations ended 2014 with net assets totalling more than $19 million, Liberal riding associations reported a total of about $8 million in net assets, and NDP associations more than $4.4 million.
Individuals are able to give up to $1,500 to each political party and an additional $1,500 to all the registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates of each registered party combined.
Registered third parties
A person or group must register as a third party immediately after incurring election advertising expenses totalling $500 or more. There are strict limits on advertising expenses, and specific limits that can be incurred to promote or oppose the election of one or more candidates in a particular electoral district. There were 112 registered third parties in the 2015 election. There was a $150,000 election advertising expenses limit. Of that amount, no more than $8,788 could be incurred to promote or oppose the election of one or more candidates in a particular electoral district.
Hours after conceding defeat on election night, incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper resigned as leader of the Conservative Party, though he announced his intention to remain in the new parliament as a backbencher after being elected in the riding of Calgary Heritage. The Conservative caucus met on November 5, 2015, and elected former health minister and Alberta MP Rona Ambrose as interim leader of the party, and hence, interim Leader of the Official Opposition. The next Conservative Party of Canada leadership election was held on May 27, 2017. Following his swearing in on November 4, 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that parliament would reconvene on December 3, 2015, with the Speech from the Throne to follow on December 4.
- China: Foreign Ministry Deputy Director and Spokeswoman Hua Chunying expressed hope on building on existing relations between Canada and China, stating "a sustainable and steady development of China–Canada relations" will benefit both countries.
- Germany: German Ambassador to Canada Werner Wnendt said that his government welcomed Trudeau's commitment to restoring a multilateral foreign policy and "the traditional voice that Canada has had at the UN has been missed".
- India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Trudeau by telephone where he reminisced about meeting Trudeau's family, expressed hope for further improvement of Canada–India relations, and invited Trudeau to visit India.
- Iran: Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told Press TV that the election is a "reflection and result of the will and resolve of the Canadian people to distance themselves from the extremist policies. The Islamic Republic respects the vote and choice of the Canadian people."
- Italy: Prime Minister Matteo Renzi sent Trudeau a Twitter message wishing him luck and saying that he looked forward to them meeting at the 2015 G-20 Antalya summit.
- Mexico: President Enrique Peña Nieto congratulated Trudeau by telephone and tweeted that "Canada and Mexico have the opportunity to start a new chapter in their relationship".
- United States: President Barack Obama congratulated Trudeau on the result in a telephone call where the two discussed Canada–United States relations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the 2015 climate change conference in Paris.
On November 4, 2015, the following individuals were sworn in as cabinet ministers of the 29th Canadian Ministry, in addition to Justin Trudeau as prime minister and minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth:
- Public Safety: Ralph Goodale
- Agriculture and Agri-Food: Lawrence MacAulay
- Foreign Affairs: Stéphane Dion
- Immigration: John McCallum
- Indigenous and Northern Affairs: Carolyn Bennett
- President of the Treasury Board: Scott Brison
- Leader of the Government in the House of Commons: Dominic LeBlanc
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development: Navdeep Singh Bains
- Finance: Bill Morneau
- Minister of Justice and Attorney General: Jody Wilson-Raybould
- Public Services and Procurement: Judy Foote
- International Trade: Chrystia Freeland
- Health: Jane Philpott
- Families, Children and Social Development: Jean-Yves Duclos
- Transport: Marc Garneau
- International Development: Marie-Claude Bibeau
- Natural Resources: Jim Carr
- Canadian Heritage: Mélanie Joly
- Revenue: Diane Lebouthillier
- Veterans Affairs: Kent Hehr
- Environment and Climate Change: Catherine McKenna
- National Defence: Harjit Sajjan
- Employment, Workforce and Labour: MaryAnn Mihychuk
- Infrastructure and Communities: Amarjeet Sohi
- Democratic Institutions: Maryam Monsef
- Sports and Persons with Disabilities: Carla Qualtrough
- Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard: Hunter Tootoo
- Science: Kirsty Duncan
- Status of Women: Patty Hajdu
- Small Business and Tourism: Bardish Chagger
- Fixed election dates in Canada
- List of Canadian federal general elections
- List of political parties in Canada
- Results by riding of the Canadian federal election, 2015
- 2011 Bloc Québécois leadership election
- 2012 New Democratic Party leadership election
- 2013 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election
- 2014 Bloc Québécois leadership election
- The party totals are theoretical. They are the transposition of the 2011 district results redistributed to the new districts formed in 2015.
- Includes Liberal candidate Cheryl Thomas from Victoria, who publicly withdrew from the election after the final list of candidates was released and thus remained on the ballot as the Liberal candidate.
- Includes Conservative candidate Jagdish Grewal from Mississauga—Malton, who was expelled by the Conservative Party after the final list of candidates was released and thus remained on the ballot as the Conservative candidate.
- Does not include José Núñez-Melo, an incumbent MP who was denied the NDP nomination in Vimy after the writ was dropped, and subsequently announced he was running as a Green candidate.
- Does not include Montcalm MP Manon Perreault, who sat as an independent before the writ was dropped, after which she announced her candidacy for Strength in Democracy.
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