Jun 05, 2018

Minority vs. Majority

Authored by:

Joanne Dobson

Joanne Dobson

Under our current parliamentary system in Ontario, the party winning the most seats forms the government. If a party ends up with more than half the seats in the Legislature, a majority government forms and has control. In the current situation in Ontario, a party must be leading by 8 points in order to capture a majority, the current Onpulse numbers, the NDP is at 37, the PC’s are at 33 and the Liberals are at 23 – of course, this was before Wynne’s weekend announcement.

But if the party winning the most seats still has fewer than half the total seats, it is likely to form a minority government. This would be the case of the election was held today. Essentially, when the government is brought down, the Legislative Assembly is dissolved and an election called – unless under special circumstances the Lieutenant Governor asks another party or coalition of parties to form government.

A minority party can unite with another party in the Legislature to obtain an absolute majority.

What does this mean for industry? It makes the political environment more volatile. I would argue, the government agenda becomes more stagnant. Opposition parties, with their greater number of seats, can block bills and motions from passing and can also bring down the government on major matters like the budget or a non confidence motion. A lot of negotiating happens behind closed doors, as the government attempts to hold onto power. Often you will see a watered down agenda reflective of all parties - rather than a brazen approach which you would see under a majority government.

It is even more important under a minority government situation to ensure your basis are covered and that all parties are aware of your positions as a stakeholder. Finding alignment though, can prove to be difficult.

Currently, the Cabinet Office - otherwise known as the Premier’s Ministry - is working on policy briefing books and mapping out all post election scenarios so they are as prepared as possible to brief the incoming Premier, the transition team and the new Cabinet once appointed. Expect things to move slowly under a minority as the new government finds its feet and learns how to navigate this new minefield.

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