- Canadian federal election, 1979
election_name = Canadian federal election, 1979
country = Canada
type = parliamentary
ongoing = no
previous_election = Canadian federal election, 1974
previous_year = 1974
previous_mps = 30th Canadian Parliament
next_election = Canadian federal election, 1980
next_year = 1980
next_mps = 32nd Canadian Parliament
seats_for_election = 282 seats in the
31st Canadian Parliament
May 22, 1979
leader_since1 = 1976
party1 = Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
leaders_seat1 = Yellowhead
last_election1 = 98
seats1 = 136
seat_change1 = +38
popular_vote1 = 4,111,606
percentage1 = 35.89%
swing1 = +0.43%
leader_since2 = 1968
party2 = Liberal Party of Canada
leaders_seat2 = Mount Royal
last_election2 = 133
seats2 = 114
seat_change2 = -19
popular_vote2 = 4,595,319
percentage2 = 40.11%
swing2 = -3.04%
leader_since4 = 1975
party4 = New Democratic Party
leaders_seat4 = Oshawa
last_election4 = 16
seats4 = 26
seat_change4 = +10
popular_vote4 = 2,048,988
percentage4 = 17.88%
swing4 = +2.45%
party5 =Social Credit Party of Canada
map_size = 250px
map_caption = Popular vote map showing seat totals by province
title = PM
after_party = Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
before_party = Liberal Party of Canada
The Canadian federal election of 1979 was held on
May 22, 1979to elect members of the Canadian House of Commonsof the 31st Parliament of Canada. It resulted in the defeat of Liberal Party of Canadaafter 11 years in power under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Joe Clarkled the Progressive Conservative Party to power, but with only a minority of seats in the House of Commons. The Liberals did beat however the Progressive Conservatives in the overall popular vote by more than 400,000 votes.
The Trudeau Liberals had become very unpopular during their last term in government because of large budget deficits, high inflation, and high unemployment. Although elections in Canada are normally held four years apart, Trudeau deferred calling an election until five years after the previous election in the hope that the Liberal Party would be able to recover some of the support that it had lost.
The effort was unsuccessful, however, and the Liberals lost 27 seats. Several high-profile cabinet ministers were defeated. Trudeau resigned as Liberal leader following the election.
The PC Party campaigned on the slogans, "Let's get Canada working again", and "It's time for a change - give the future a chance!" Canadians were not, however, sufficiently confident in the young Joe Clark to give him a majority in the House of Commons. Quebec, in particular, was unwilling to support Clark, and elected only two PC Members of Parliament (MPs) in the province's 75 ridings. Clark, relatively unknown when elected as PC leader at the 1976 PC Party convention, was seen as being bumbling and unsure. Clark had had problems with certain right-wing members of his caucus. In particular, when Clark's riding was merged into the riding of another PC MP during a redistribution of ridings, the other MP refused to step aside, and Clark ended up running in another riding. Also, when Clark undertook a tour of the Middle East Asia in order to show his ability to handle foreign affairs issues, his luggage was lost, and Clark appeared to be uncomfortable with the issues being discussed.
The Liberals tried to make leadership and Clark's inexperience the issue, arguing in their advertising that "This is no time for on-the-job training", and "We need tough leadership to keep Canada growing. A leader must be a leader."
Social Credit Party of Canada, which had lost its mercurial leader, Réal Caouette, who died in 1976, struggled to remain relevant. After a series of interim leaders, including Caouette's son, the party turned to Fabien Roy, a popular member of the National Assembly of Quebec, who took the reins of the party just before the beginning of the campaign. The party won the tacit support of the separatist " Parti Québécois", which formed the government of Quebec. Social Credit attempted to rally the separatist and nationalist vote: Canadian flags were absent at its campaign kick-off rally, and the party's slogan was "C'est à notre tour" ("It's our turn"), which was reminiscent of the popular separatist anthem " Gens du pays" that includes the chorus, "C'est à votre tour de vous laisser parler d'amour". The party focused its platform on constitutional change, promising to fight to abolish the federal government's never-used right to disallow any provincial legislation, and stating that each province has a "right to choose its own destiny within Canada".
The Socreds' support from the Parti Québécois was not welcome by everyone; for instance,
Gilles Caouettepublicly denounced what he called " péquistes déguisés en créditistes" ("Péquistes disguised as Socreds"). While the party did manage to somewhat increase its vote in Péquiste areas, it also lost many votes in areas of traditional Socred strength, with the end result being a drop from eleven to six seats and a slightly reduced share of the popular vote compared to the 1974 election. "(See also: Social Credit Party candidates, 1979 Canadian federal election.)"
minority governmentlasted less than nine months. It was defeated in the House of Commons in a vote of non-confidence over a budget bill that proposed to increase the excise tax on gasoline by 18 cents per Imperial gallon (about 4 cents per litre). This resulted in the 1980 election, in which the PCs were defeated by the resurgent Trudeau Liberals.
Clark won the popular vote in seven provinces, but because his Tories could only muster 2 seats in Quebec, he only won a minority government. The Liberals won only one seat west of Manitoba. This election was the last in which the
Social Credit Party of Canadawon seats. An unusual event occurred in the Northwest Territories: the Liberals won the popular vote in the territory, but won neither seat.
xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote.
* Number of parties: 9
** First appearance:
Libertarian Party of Canada, Union Populaire
** Reappearance after hiatus:
Rhinoceros Party of Canada
** Final appearance: "none"
31st Canadian parliamentfor a full list of MPs elected in this election.
Social Credit Party candidates, 1979 Canadian federal election
* [http://atlas.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/5thedition/peopleandsociety/politicalgeography/mcr4020 Riding map]
* [http://www.histori.ca/prodev/article.do?id=15406 The Elections of 1979 and 1980, by Robert Bothwell]
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