After a historic election on October 19 that saw the highest Canadian voter turnout since 1993, a new Trudeau has become the prime minister-designate. The Liberal Party of Canada swept the Conservatives to the curb, scoring 184 possible seats in the Canadian House of Commons and moving the Conservative Party back to Official Opposition status. Before the Liberal Party can get into celebrating their success with the stunning results – the Liberal Party had not even had Official Opposition status for the last four years – they still have to wait until Justin Trudeau is officially invited to form a new government.
When that happens is still undecided, although Macleans reports the prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau will likely attend his first public event on Remembrance Day in Ottawa on November 11. The Liberal Party leader may not take on the official title of prime minister until the current prime minister, Stephen Harper, talks to the Governor General.
The Rideau Hall website outlines the process.
“In the case of a prime minister informing the Governor General of his or her wish to retire and to resign from office, the Governor General, in accepting the resignation, may seek the prime minister’s advice as to a successor [as prime minister]. The Governor General then decides who is in the best position to command the confidence of the House of Commons, and invites that person, during a meeting at Rideau Hall, to form a government.”
Certainly, there is no question that Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party, will be invited to form that government. It is now simply a matter of timing. His predecessor, Stephen Harper, took two weeks before he met with the Governor General to discuss when and how he would form a government. Before that, Liberal Party leader Jean Chretien took 10 days before officially becoming prime minister.
The current Liberal Party leader has found that his popularity had continued to grow throughout the election, particularly due to his efforts to connect with young people. He told the Financial Times that he deliberately wanted to make that connection in order to separate himself from the legacy his father, the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, established when he was Liberal Party leader and later, prime minister.
“I wanted to demonstrate, by engaging with . . . a group who had no emotional connection to my father, that I had something to offer,” he said. “So it was a nice touchstone for me.”
The elder Trudeau led the Canadian Liberal Party and was Canadian prime minister from April 20, 1968, to June 4, 1979, and from March 3, 1980, to June 30, 1984. He has often been considered one of Canada’s most influential leaders of the 20th century.
Clearly, Liberal Party leader and prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau’s strategy worked, as he is now patiently waiting to determine when he will effectively take on the mantle of the prime minister and move into the prime minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It is a residence which will no doubt hold many memories for Trudeau as he also spent at least part of his childhood at 24 Sussex.
Ultimately, though, it becomes the Governor General’s – in this case, David Johnston’s – responsibility for the official handoff. Harper must meet with Johnston to discuss his resignation and next steps, and then comes the meeting with the Liberal Party leader and the prime minister-designate. The official handoff, which will see outgoing Prime Minister Harper return to Calgary as a sitting Member of Parliament while Trudeau returns to 24 Sussex Drive as Canada’s newest leader instead of “Maple 3” as he was code named by his father’s security detail.
Regardless of when Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau officially takes on the title of prime minister, one thing is certain; he is not wasting any time. He has already had discussions with US president Barack Obama and told him that Canada will be pulling out of future ISIS airstrikes. Some may say this is a fairly quick move for a man who just last week was Liberal Party leader and this week is looking forward to becoming Canadian prime minister.
(Feature image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)