The Current

Can the federal parties work together? We asked 4 newly elected MPs

After a "wildly divisive" campaign, the federal parties will need to find a way to avoid partisan bickering, says a political scientist. Veteran politicians and newly elected MPs weigh up the work ahead.

MPs say voters sent a clear message to Ottawa: Get back to work

Green Party candidate Mike Morrice, Liberal candidate Mark Holland, NDP candidate Heather McPherson and Conservative candidate Stephanie Kusie were all elected as members of parliament on Monday night. (; Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press; Nathan Gross/CBC; Todd Korol/Canadian Press)

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After a "wildly divisive" campaign, the federal parties will need to find a way to avoid partisan bickering to meet the needs of Canadians, says a political scientist. 

"These parties are going to have to grow up a bit," and figure out how to work together, said Tamara Small, a political science professor at the University of Guelph.

Canadians are exhausted, and want leaders to guide them out of the pandemic, said Catherine McKenna, a former Liberal MP who did not run in this election.

"They want their kids to be in school safely. They want the economy restarted and they want us to tackle climate change and big issues," she told The Current's Matt Galloway.

She said the Liberals should take their win, "but just now, get to work and work with other parties."

WATCH | What happened on election night: 

Canadian federal election night in under 7 minutes

1 month ago
Watch highlights from our special coverage of the federal election. 6:53

Though some results are not yet decided, Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party secured enough seats Monday night to form another minority government. Erin O'Toole's Conservatives so far lead in the share of the popular vote, but the final share of seats among all parties may not shift significantly from the results of the 2019 election.

NDP MP Heather McPherson, re-elected in Edmonton Strathcona, said Canadians have sent a message that the snap election was unnecessary — a charge levelled at Trudeau throughout the campaign — "because [voters] sent back almost the exact same thing to Ottawa."

Voters tired of partisanship

But the overarching message for MPs heading to Ottawa is that "Canadians want us to get back to work and start doing what needs to be done to recover from COVID-19," she said.

Newly elected Green Party MP Mike Morrice said he's heard the same message from voters on the campaign trail.

"They don't care what party someone is with. They just want to see their representatives finding a way to figure it out and work together when it comes to the shared challenges," said Morrice, elected in Kitchener Centre.

The conversations he had on doorsteps were about issues such as the cost of housing, mental health support, and the climate crisis, he said.

"This is an opportunity to just turn that partisanship down and instead focus on what we all have in common."

McPherson believes it is possible for parliamentarians to work together, pointing to the work they did throughout the pandemic. She was the only NDP MP elected in Alberta in 2019, "so of course I have to be pretty good at working with other folks," she said. Two years later, she's joined by Blake Desjarlais, elected in Edmonton Griesbach.

If they can't, the idea of another election, a couple of months or even years down the road, might not be a popular one, Small warned.

"No one's going to want to be responsible for going early next time," she said. 

Political veterans Lisa Raitt, Libby Davies and Catherine McKenna all agree the parties must find a way to work together. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press; Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press; Justin Tang/The Canadian Press; )

Election left Canada 'more divided,' says MP

Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie, re-elected in the riding of Calgary-Midnapore, said the snap election has left Canada "more divided and in a bit of a stalemate."

"It's absolutely as a result of the prime minister and his divisive politics over the last six years, which culminated in the selfish election that he called where he failed in achieving a majority," she told Galloway.

When asked if there is room for her party to work with the Liberals, she said "there's a lot of reflection to be done by both Canadians in terms of what the future holds, and as well parliamentarians as we go back to the House of Commons."

"Certainly what Justin Trudeau has created and built in the last six years is not an environment of unity or positivity for Canada, and we in the House of Commons are the ones who are left to deal with that."

In a speech to supporters after the result was called, Trudeau said he heard the message from Canadians that "you don't want us talking about politics or elections anymore, you want us to focus on the work that we have to do for you."

"I hear you when you say that you just want to get back to the things you love … you just want to know that your members of Parliament of all stripes will have your back through this crisis and beyond."

WATCH | Trudeau's election-night speech to supporters:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s full speech following 2021 election results

1 month ago
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau reacts to the 2021 election results from Montreal, Quebec. 9:26

Lisa Raitt, former MP and deputy leader of the Conservatives, said she hopes the Conservatives will work with others on solutions that make sense for all Canadians.

But she noted "there are some stark differences in how people want to handle matters."

She said she wants to see a move away from "wedge politics and gotchas," and toward collaboration.

"We need to realize that it's not a given that Canada is going to come roaring back and we really need to work together in order to ensure that everybody, rural and urban, can have a fair shot at prosperity."

Speaking Monday night, O'Toole said Canadians were being left behind by a style of politics that pitted "neighbour against neighbour, region against region."

He suggested Trudeau would call another election within 18 months, to secure the majority that eluded him this time.

"We need to heal the divides in Canada, not risk worsening them, for selfish gains," he said.

WATCH | O'Toole suggests Trudeau will call another election: 

O'Toole suggests Trudeau will call another election

1 month ago
Conservative Party Leader Erin O'Toole said in his concession speech Monday night that he anticipates Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will soon call another election since he did not get the majority he wanted. 1:08

'Govern for all Canadians': MP

With the vast majority of seats in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta going to the Conservatives and NDP, the Liberals will face questions over western representation.

Liberal MP Mark Holland, re-elected in Ajax, said it's essential that his party finds ways to understand those concerns, and reaches across the aisle "towards compromise and towards bringing folks together."

"That doesn't mean you always agree, but you have to ensure that the viewpoints and the perspectives of others are reflected in your thinking," said Holland.

"You have to govern for all Canadians, including the seats that you don't represent."

PHOTOS | Election day 2021: 

Former NDP MP Libby Davies said there was a sense of parliamentary goodwill at the beginning of the pandemic, which has eroded over time.

"We've got to get back to that place of the public interest, in doing what's the best possibly that can be done for Canadians."

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Idella Sturino and Ben Jamieson.

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