In My Opinion: Minority government can hold the potential for greatness

In his In My Opinion column, re-elected Beaches-East York Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith says the upcoming Parliament can have the potential for greatness if the minority government has the right approach.


In this 43rd Parliament, we should be ambitious in our ideas, humble and co-operative in our approach, and squarely focused on the hard work ahead.

With the right approach, minority governments hold potential for greatness. When Lester B. Pearson led a minority government between 1963-68, Parliament established universal healthcare, the Canada Pension Plan, and Canada Student Loans – not to mention our national flag.

In his book Two Cheers for Minority Government, political scientist Peter Russell surveys over a dozen countries that have governed themselves extremely well without a majority of seats in the House of Commons. On minority governments in the Canadian context, he’s said “they were some of the most dynamic governments we’ve had.”

We need a dynamic federal government to respond to the global climate crisis. While we’ve made serious progress, reducing projected 2030 emissions by 25 per cent since 2015, more action is needed and the election results represent strong support for both carbon pricing and more ambitious action. Our challenge now is to set Canada on a credible path to net zero, and to ensure a just transition for all affected workers and regions.

Beyond climate policy, we need a dynamic government to take on other big ideas, like reconciliation and equality for Indigenous communities, affordable housing in our cities, a public health response to the opioid crisis, stronger gun control, tackling tax havens, national pharmacare, expanding basic income supports, new digital and privacy rights, and more.

Our task is to put partisan interests aside and to work across the aisle to accomplish these big ideas for our country.

If we follow the evidence, listen thoughtfully to our critics, and engage and disagree respectfully, we have the opportunity to deliver bold social progress.

The only practical constraint should be our continued commitment to fiscal responsibility. Every year this Liberal government has been in office, the Parliamentary Budget Office has reported that “fiscal policy at the federal level is sustainable over the long term,” and we should not jeopardize that position.

With the promise of a new and co-operative Parliament, I’m looking forward to returning to Ottawa, and I am thankful to everyone who participated in the election.

Credit to all local candidates for putting their name forward, and for running largely positive and hard-working local campaigns. Mae J. Nam and Sean Manners were particularly thoughtful, articulate, and passionate at our debates.

And a special thanks to those who voted, volunteered, and contributed to our local campaign. It is a humbling experience as a candidate to see so many people give their time and energy, and I wouldn’t be where I am without that support. We have an incredible team here in Beaches-East York and I’m proud of our hard work and positive approach this election.

It means a lot to be given another opportunity to stand up for our community in Ottawa. I will keep working hard to bring a sense of thoughtfulness and principled independence to my role.

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