From 2006 to 2015 we endured a decade of Conservative rule even though the Conservatives never won the support of even 40 percent of Canadian voters. Such are the idiosyncrasies of the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) electoral system.
Since 2015 we have been governed by the Liberals, but not with much more convincing electoral support. The Liberals haven’t managed to reach 40 percent either, winning in 2019 with only 33 percent (less support, in fact, than the Conservatives). Again FPTP made its mischief.
Nonetheless, the Liberals are much more representative of Canadians than the Conservatives were. The reason is Canadians’ liberal-left tilt. The Liberals have much in common with the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc. The Conservatives, on the other hand, stand alone.
This was illustrated by a recent Angus Reid Institute survey. When committed supporters of the various parties were asked who their second choice was, 27 percent said the NDP, 14 per cent said the Liberals and only eight percent chose the Conservatives.
As the survey reported, “It’s clear there is a significant number of swing voters between the major centrist and left-wing Canadian parties. Three-in-five Liberal voters say their second choice is the NDP and 44 percent of NDP voters pick the Liberals as their second choice. Conservatives aren’t sure where to turn for their second option.”
What this means is that a Liberal government often represents the views of NDP supporters as well as its own, and possibly Green and Bloc supporters as well. In other words, even if it is elected by only 40 percent of the voters, it may well, depending on the policy, represent a majority. A Conservative government, on the other hand, mostly represents solely the views of conservatives—period.
The liberal-left tilt of Canadians allows a Liberal government to somewhat overcome the misrepresentation of FPTP. A Conservative government—not so much.