Feature

The new House of Commons: More women and aboriginal MPs

The Liberals’ decisive election win on Monday will radically alter the complexion of the House of Commons, which will include a record number of aboriginal and women MPs.
The Liberals' decisive election win on Monday will radically alter the complexion of the House of Commons.

Given that the party went from having 37 seats when the writ was dropped in August to 184 on election night, the extent of the change was bound to be significant.

It has also made the House more diverse.

The 43rd Parliament of Canada will contain over 200 new faces, including a record number of aboriginal (10) and female MPs (88).

Here's a closer look at the makeup of the new House of Commons.

Many new faces

Election 2015 unseated a number of high-profile MPs, including Finance Minister Joe Oliver, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Toronto-area MP Julian Fantino, as well as well-respected NDP critics Megan Leslie, Paul Dewar and Andrew Cash.

When the dust settles and the new Parliament sits for the first time, it will feature 200 rookie MPs, such as Liberal Neil Ellis (Bay of Quinte), Conservative Marilyn Gladu (Lambton-Sarnia) and NDPer Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East) and Bloc Quebecois member Marilène Gill (Manicouagan).

The next Parliament will also boast some elder statesmen. They include Liberal Ralph Goodale, who was first elected as a MP in 1974 and will have the distinction of having served under both Pierre Trudeau and his son. Goodale did a spell in provincial politics in Saskatchewan before returning to the federal scene in 1993, where he has served ever since.

Bloc Quebecois MP Louis Plamondon remains the longest continuously serving MP, having first been elected as a Progressive Conservative MP in 1984 before moving to the BQ in the 1990s.

More women

Election 2015 was historic for a number of reasons, not least because it ushered in the highest number of female MPs ever. In total, 88 women were elected – 50 for the Liberals, 18 for the NDP, 17 for the Conservatives, two for the BQ and one for the Green Party.

That builds on the previous record of 76, which was set in the 2011 election. (Due to byelections, the last Parliament contained 77 women when the writ was dropped on Aug. 2.)

Even so, the advocacy group Equal Voice released a statement saying, "While many voters may have chosen dramatic change to Canada's political landscape last night by electing a majority Liberal government, one thing remained virtually unchanged: the proportion of women who will serve."

Indeed, the 88 women elected on Oct. 19 will still only represent 26 per cent of the total MPs in the House of Commons – almost the exact proportion of female MPs when the election was called on Aug. 2.

More aboriginal MPs

The election also garnered a record total of indigenous MPs — 10 in all, from incumbent Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou) to Robert-Falcon Ouellette (Winnipeg Centre). That figure was up from seven in the 2011 election.

Between the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens, a total of 54 indigenous candidates ran in this election. That's a 23 per cent increase from 2011, when those parties fielded a combined 31 indigenous candidates.