Canadian federal election, 1980
|Popular vote map showing seat totals by province|
The Canadian federal election of 1980 was held on February 18, 1980 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 32nd Parliament of Canada. It was called when the minority Progressive Conservative government led by Prime Minister Joe Clark was defeated in the Commons.
Clark and his government had been under attack for its perceived inexperience, for example, in its handling of its 1979 election campaign commitment to move Canada's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Clark had maintained uneasy relations with the fourth largest party in the House of Commons, Social Credit. While he needed the six votes that the conservative-populist Quebec-based party had in order to get legislation passed, he was unwilling to agree to the conditions they imposed for their support. Clark had managed to recruit one Social Credit MP, Richard Janelle, to join the PC caucus.
Clark's Minister of Finance, John Crosbie, introduced an austere government budget in late 1979 that proposed to increase the excise tax on gasoline by 18¢ per Imperial gallon (about 4¢ a litre) to reduce the federal government's deficit. The New Democratic Party's finance critic, Bob Rae, proposed a rider to the budget bill stating that "this House has lost confidence in the government." The five remaining Social Credit MPs abstained, upset that the revenues from the increased gas tax were not allocated to Quebec. In addition, one Tory MP was too ill to attend the vote while two others were stuck abroad on official business. Meanwhile, the Liberals assembled all but one member of their caucus, even going as far as to bring in several bedridden MPs by ambulance. Rae's subamendment was adopted by a vote of 139-133, bringing down the government and forcing a new election.
Clark's Tories campaigned under the slogan, "Real change deserves a fair chance", but the voters were unwilling to give Clark another chance. The loss of the budget vote just seven months into his mandate and his subsequent defeat in the February 18 general election would eventually result in his ouster as leader by Brian Mulroney three years later.
Former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau had announced his resignation as leader of the Liberal Party following its defeat in 1979. However, no leadership convention had been held when the Progressive Conservative government fell. Trudeau quickly rescinded his resignation and led the party to victory, winning 34 more seats than in the 1979 federal election. This enabled the Liberals to form a majority government that would last until its defeat in the 1984 election.
The abstention by Social Credit on the crucial budget vote (while the Liberals and NDP voted to bring down the government) contributed to the growing perception that the party had become irrelevant following the death of iconic leader Réal Caouette. The Social Credit Party lost its last five seats in the House of Commons. The party rapidly declined into obscurity after this election, though it nominally continued to exist until 1993.
Voter turn-out: 69.3%
Despite winning at least one seat in every province and territory, the Progressive Conservatives lost to the Liberals, who won a majority government. This was mainly because the Liberals won all but one seat in their stronghold of Quebec, and captured the majority of the seats in Ontario, Canada's two most populous provinces. Progressive Conservative Premier Bill Davis's criticism of the gas tax was brought up by the Trudeau's Liberals and that sapped federal PC support in Ontario. The Liberals were shut out west of Manitoba, highlighting a sharp geographical divide in the country.
|Party||Party leader||# of
|Progressive Conservative||Joe Clark||282||136||136||103||-24.3%||3,552,994||32.45%||-3.44pp|
|New Democratic Party||Ed Broadbent||280||26||27||32||+23.1%||2,165,087||19.77%||+1.89pp|
|Social Credit||Fabien Roy||81||6||5||-||-100%||185,486||1.70%||-2.91pp|
"% change" refers to change from previous election.
Changes to party standings from previous election: Social Credit MP Richard Janelle crossed the floor to join the PC Party. PC MP John Diefenbaker died during the parliamentary session. A New Democrat was elected in the subsequent by-election.
Vote and seat summaries
Results by province
|New Democratic Party||Seats:||12||-||7||7||5||-||-||-||-||-||1||-||32|
|Parties that won no seats:|
xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote.
- Number of parties: 9
- List of Canadian federal general elections
- List of political parties in Canada
- 33rd Canadian Parliament
Articles on parties' candidates in this election:
- Pomfret, R. "Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums". Elections Canada. Elections Canada. Retrieved 11 January 2014.