Canadians return Liberals to power with minority government
Canadian voters elected a minority Liberal government Monday night, bringing an end to a 40-day election campaign that heard many promises on immigration but never saw it emerge as a top issue.
The Liberal minority led by Justin Trudeau will face an opposition led by the Conservative Party of Canada. Polls had both parties effectively tied for most of the campaign period and each earned around 34 per cent of the popular vote Monday night.
A resurgent Bloc Québécois took the third-most seats, followed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Green Party.
The new People’s Party of Canada, which campaigned on a pledge to halve the number of immigrants admitted each year to Canada, did not win a seat.
The Liberals’ minority status means they will now have to find common ground among their opponents in Parliament in order to pass legislation.
However, given that all five parties represented in the House of Commons campaigned on essentially pro-immigration policies, obtaining majority support for immigration policies may be possible.
Liberal immigration priorities
One priority issue is Canada’s annual immigration levels, which the Liberals have pledged to raise through “modest and responsible increases.”
The multi-year approach to immigration levels planning that was introduced by the Liberals in 2017 has the number of newcomers to Canada reaching 350,000 by 2021 — a total annual increase of around three per cent over 2020.
This level of increase could continue beyond 2021 if the Liberals can gain majority support for their immigration targets moving forward.
Nearly 60 per cent of newcomers will be admitted through Canada’s Economic Class immigration programs and the Liberals’ election platform said they will keep this focus on “highly skilled people who can help build a stronger Canada.”
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer referred to the Liberals’ immigration targets as “reasonable” during the election campaign. He also said Canada’s immigration targets should not be “politicized,” which suggests some cooperation between the two parties on Canada’s targets may be possible.
The Liberals aren’t expected to introduce major changes to Canada’s Express Entry system, which was introduced by the Conservatives in 2015 to manage the pool of candidates for three of Canada’s main economic immigration programs – the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Trades Class.
The points-based system issues eligible candidates a score based on their age, education level, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French, among other factors, and a set number of the highest-ranked candidates are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through regular draws from the Express Entry pool.
In 2016, the Liberals reduced the number of points awarded for a job offer from 600 to a maximum of 200 to ensure that those invited to apply for permanent residence are highly skilled and more likely to find economic success in Canada.
The Conservatives pledged to reverse this change in their election platform, a promise that could spark some friction between the two top parties in Parliament.