- Canadian federal election, 2004
election_name = Canadian federal election, 2004
country = Canada
type = parliamentary
ongoing = no
previous_election = Canadian federal election, 2000
previous_year = 2000
previous_mps = 37th Canadian Parliament
next_election = Canadian federal election, 2006
next_year = 2006
next_mps = List of House members of the 39th Parliament of Canada
seats_for_election = 308 seats in the
38th Canadian Parliament
June 28 2004
party1 = Liberal Party of Canada
last_election1 = 172
seats1 = 135
seat_change1 = −37
popular_vote1 = 4,951,107
percentage1 = 36.7%
swing1 = −3.2%
party2 = Conservative Party of Canada
last_election2 = 781
seats2 = 99
seat_change2 = +21
popular_vote2 = 3,994,682
percentage2 = 29.6%
swing2 = −8.1%
party4 = Bloc Québécois
leaders_seat4 = Laurier—
last_election4 = 38
seats4 = 54
seat_change4 = +16
popular_vote4 = 1,672,874
percentage4 = 12.4%
swing4 = +1.7%
party5 = New Democratic Party
last_election5 = 13
seats5 = 19
seat_change5 = +6
popular_vote5 = 2,116,536
percentage5 = 15.7%
swing5 = +7.2%
map_size = 250px
title = PM
before_party = Liberal Party of Canada
after_party = Liberal Party of CanadaThe Canadian federal election, 2004 (more formally, the 38th General Election), was held on
June 28, 2004to elect members of the Canadian House of Commonsof the 38th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martinlost its majority, but was able to form a minority government after the elections. The main opposition party, the newly amalgamated Conservative Party of Canada, improved its position but with a showing below its expectations.
May 23, 2004, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, on the advice of Martin, ordered the dissolution of the House of Commons. Following a 36-day campaign, voters elected 308 Members of the House of Commons.
All three major national parties had changed their leaders since the 2000 elections. Although the election was initially widely expected to be a relatively easy romp for Martin to a fourth consecutive Liberal majority government, during the campaign many began instead to predict a far more closely-fought election after the Sponsorship scandal broke out. Polls started to indicate the possibility of a
minority governmentfor the Liberals, or even a minority Conservative government, fuelling speculation of coalitions with the other parties. In the end, the Liberals fared better than the final opinion polls had led them to fear, but well short of a majority.
On election day, polling times were arranged to allow results from most provinces to be announced more or less simultaneously, with the exception of
Atlantic Canada, whose results were known before the close of polling in other provinces due to the British Columbia Supreme Court's decision in " R. v. Bryan".
A Canadian party must hold 155 seats to form a majority government. The Liberals came short of this number, winning 135. Until extremely close ridings were decided on the west coast, it appeared as though the Liberals' seat total, if combined with that of the left-wing
New Democratic Party(NDP), would be sufficient to hold a majority in the House of Commons. In the end, the Conservatives won Vancouver Island North, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, and New Westminster-Coquitlam, after trailing in all three ridings, as sub-totals were announced through the evening.
As a result, the combined seat count of the Liberals and the NDP was 154, while the other 154 seats belonged to the Conservatives, Bloquistes, and one independent
Chuck Cadman(previously a Conservative). Rather than forming a coalition with the NDP, the Liberal party led a minority government, obtaining majorities for its legislation on an ad hoc basis. Nevertheless, as the showdown on Bill C-48, a matter of confidence, loomed in the spring of 2005, the Liberals and NDP, who wanted to continue the Parliament, found themselves matched against the Conservatives and the Bloc, who were registering no confidence. The bill just barely passed with support from the Liberals, the NDP, and the independent members of the Commons.
Voter turnout nationwide was 60.9%, the lowest ever in Canadian history [http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=pas&document=turnout&lang=e&textonly=false] , with 13,683,570 out of 22,466,621 registered voters casting their ballots. The voter turnout fell by more than 3% from the 2000 federal election which had 64.1% turnout [http://www.elections.ca/gen/rep/37g/table3_e.html] .
Important issues in the election:
*Sponsorship scandal: badly hurt the Liberals in the polls and the theme of widespread corruption was used by all opposition parties, especially the Bloc.
*Health care: all parties support Canada's government-administered health care system but acknowledge that improvements must be made to meet new demographic challenges and to reduce long wait times. Transfer payments to the provinces have been cut substantially to 16% by the federal Liberal government and it was difficult for Paul Martin to reconcile these cuts with his plan to improve the system.
Fiscal imbalance: all major parties except the Liberals claimed that there was a monetary imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces and spoke of plans to reduce it, the Bloc Québécois probably being the strongest denouncer of the situation.
Taxation: for the Conservatives, significantly lowering taxes, to stimulate the economy, was a central issue. The Conservatives also promised to end "corporate welfare" and replace it with tax cuts for all businesses. The Liberals, Communist Party and NDP opposed large tax cuts and argued that money should instead be spent to improve social programs.
Child care: The Liberals and NDP promised national child care programs.
*Parliamentary reform: The Conservatives accused the Liberals of perpetuating "undemocratic practices" in Parliament, by limiting the powers of MPs. Martin called for some reform, but not to the satisfaction of the Conservatives. The Conservatives promised an elected Senate and standing committee and provincial review of judicial appointments. The NDP spoke of abolishing the Senate.
Electoral reform: Conservatives promised fixed election dates. The NDP, Green Party, Communist Party and the CHP promoted the idea of proportional representationvoting.
*Same-sex marriage: The Bloc Québécois and the NDP strongly favoured same sex marriage. The NDP considers it a human rights issue, and requires its MPs to either support legislation favouring same-sex marriage or abstain on such questions. The Bloc, on the other hand, treats it as a matter of conscience, allowing its members free votes on the issue. The Liberals sent the issue to be ruled upon by the Supreme Court, and the Liberal caucus was publicly divided on the issue. The majority of Conservative candidates opposed it; the Conservative party's official stance was for the issue to be resolved by a free vote in the Commons.
National Missile Defence: the Bush administration in the U.S. wanted Canada to join the missile shield. The Conservatives strongly supported such a plan while the Bloc and the NDP opposed it. Although the Liberals reiterated past opposition to the weaponization of space, they did not have an expressed opinion on the shield.
2003 invasion of Iraq: the Conservatives supported the United States over Iraq, while the other parties generally opposed it.
*Gun registry: The Conservatives strongly opposed the gun registry while the other parties support it.
*marijuana: The Liberals have introduced measures to decriminalize possession of small quantities of marijuana, a move generally supported by the other opposition parties. The Conservative Party opposes such legislation. The Bloc Québécois is more explicit in its support for decriminalization, while the NDP wishes to study the issue and consider going beyond mere decriminalization.
Abortion: This was not a significant issue in this election. Abortion is legal in Canada after Parliament's failure to pass legislation to replace previous restrictions ruled illegal by the courts. Many Conservatives and a few Liberals oppose abortion. The Liberals tried to use it as a wedge issue after comments from pro-life Conservatives, but it didn't change the outcome.
*Ontario budget: The introduction by the Liberal government of
Dalton McGuintyof "Ontario Health Premiums" was very unpopular, despite Mr. McGuinty's claim that this new tax was necessary because of the budgetary deficit left by the previous Progressive Conservative government. The Conservatives and the NDP capitalized on this and other unpopular fiscal and tax-related policy to attack the Liberals at the federal level.
Policy positions of minor political parties
Leadership elections of 2003 and 2004
Conservative Party of Canada leadership election, 2004
Liberal Party of Canada leadership convention, 2003
Progressive Conservative leadership election, 2003
New Democratic Party leadership election, 2003
Articles on parties' candidates in this election:
Canadian federal election
Lists of general elections in Canada
List of elections in the Province of Canada(pre-Confederation)
Politics of Canada
List of political parties in Canada
Minority governments in Canada
* [http://www.cbc.ca/canadavotes/ CBC - Canada Votes] (includes video files of the whole English debate)
* [http://www.ctv.ca/mini/election2004/ CTV - Election 2004]
* [http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/elections/federales_2004/ SRC - Élections] (in French, includes video files of the whole French debate)
* [http://www.elections.ca Elections Canada]
* [http://enr.elections.ca/National_e.aspx Elections Canada official numbers]
* [http://www.nodice.ca/election2004/ Nodice.ca - Canada Federal Election 2004]
* [http://www.egwald.ca/statistics/canadianelections2004.php Predicting the 2004 Canadian Election]
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