The first minority Government

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February 21, 2010 by Joseph Krohn

In the 1872 general election in Canada (the second parliament to sit) Canadians elected Sir. John A. Macdonald coalition government to sit as the governing party (63 Conservatives; 36 Liberal-Conservatives; 1 Conservative-Labour) with a total of 100 seats.

During the second year of the government, the Pacific Scandal took place, where the government fell out of favour with the electorate and with the Governor General.  Sir. John’s coalition government collapsed and Sir. Alexander Mackenzie’s Liberal Party was ask to form the new government on November 5, 1873.

The Liberal Party at the time had 95 seats and had received 34.72% of the popular vote (compared with 39.11% for Macdonald’s coalition).  There was also 5 independents sitting in the House of Commons, for a total of 200 seats.

Mackenzie’s minority government lasted 48 days until he was able to call an election on January 22, 1874.

In this election Mackenzie’s Liberals received a majority with 129 seats (39.49% of the popular vote) with Macdonald’s Conservative Coalition receiving 65 seats (30.13% of the popular vote).  There were also twelve independents elected.

Minority governments are not new to Canada.  They are apart of the parliamentary system, which allows the electorate to show their disfavour for all of the federalist alternative parties.  This is a time for parties to revisit what is important to Canadians rather than what is party policy.

This year we will find out which political party (Liberal’s or Conservatives) are able to over come party politics and put the face of Canada first as we face the possibilities of an election in the spring.


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