Canadian federal election, 1968
election_name = Canadian federal election, 1968
country = Canada
type = parliamentary
previous_election = Canadian federal election, 1965
previous_year = 1965
next_election = Canadian federal election, 1972
next_year = 1972
seats_for_election = 264 seats in the
28th Canadian Parliament
June 25, 1968
next_mps = 29th Canadian Parliament
previous_mps = 27th Canadian Parliament
leader_since1 = 1968
party1 = Liberal Party of Canada
leaders_seat1 = Mount Royal
last_election1 = 131
seats1 = 154
party2 =Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
party4 =New Democratic Party
party5 =Ralliement créditiste
title = PM
before_party = Liberal Party of Canada
after_party = Liberal Party of Canada
The Canadian federal election of 1968 was held on
June 25, 1968, to elect members of the Canadian House of Commonsof the 28th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal Party won a majority government under its new leader, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Trudeau, who was a relative unknown until he was appointed to the cabinet by Prime Minister
Lester B. Pearson, had won a surprise victory over Paul Joseph James Martin, Paul Hellyerand Robert Wintersin the party's leadership election earlier in 1968. The charismatic, intellectual, handsome, single, and fully bilingual Trudeau soon captured the hearts and minds of the nation, and the period leading up to the election saw such intense feelings for him that it was dubbed "Trudeaumania." At public appearances, he was confronted by screaming girls, something never before seen in Canadian politics.
The Liberal campaign was dominated by Trudeau's personality. Liberal campaign ads featured pictures of Trudeau inviting Canadians to "Come work with me", and encouraged them to "Vote for New Leadership for All of Canada". The substance of the campaign was based upon the creation of a "just society", with a proposed expansion of social programs.
The principal opposition to the Liberals were the Progressive Conservative Party led by
Robert Stanfield. The party was still smarting from the nasty infighting that had led to the ousting of leader John Diefenbaker.
They also ran into trouble with their policy on Quebec: the Tories, hoping to contrast with the rigidly
federalistTrudeau, and embraced the idea of "deux nations", meaning that their policies would be based on the idea that Canada was one country housing two nations - French-Canadians and English-speaking Canadians. As Conservative candidates began to renounce this policy, the party was forced to backtrack, and late in the campaign, ran ads signed by Stanfield that stated that the PC Party stood for "One country, one Canada".
Trudeau had more success, promoting his vision of a Canada whole and indivisible.
On the left, former long-time
Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglasled the New Democratic Party, but once again failed to make the electoral break-through that was hoped for when the party was founded in 1960. Under the slogan, "You" win with the NDP", Douglas campaigned for affordable housing, higher old age pensions, lower prescription drug prices, and a reduced cost of living. However, the NDP had difficulty running against the left-leaning Trudeau, who was himself a former supporter of the NDP. Douglas would step down as leader in 1971, but remains a powerful icon for New Democrats.
The Social Credit Party failed to win any seats. On the other hand, the "Ralliement des créditistes" (Social Credit Rally), the
Québecwing of the party that had split from the English Canadian party, met with great success. The "créditistes" were a populistoption appealing to social conservatives and Québec nationalists. They were especially strong in rural ridings and amongst poor voters. Party leader Réal Caouettecampaigned against poverty, government indifference, and "la grosse finance" (big finance). Caouette gave voters the impression that his party was the only one that truly belonged to the people.
The results of the election were sealed when on the night before the election a riot broke out at the
St. Jean Baptiste Dayparade in Montreal. Protesting the prime minister's attendance at the parade, supporters of Quebec independence yelled "Trudeau au poteau" [Trudeau to the gallows] , and threw bottles and rocks. Trudeau, whose lack of military service had led some to question his courage, firmly stood his ground, and did not flee from the violence despite the wishes of his security escort. Images of Trudeau standing fast to the thrown bottles of the rioters were broadcast across the country, and swung the election even further in the Liberals' favour as many English-speaking Canadians believed that he would be the right leader to fight the threat of Quebec separatism.
This was the last federal election where provinces (specifically - Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan) lost seats they held in the previous election due to a
redistribution. The 1966 census, for example, revealed that Alberta had a population about 50% greater than Saskatchewan's even though both provinces had the same number of seats at the time (17). Saskatchewan was the only province to lose multiple seats in the redistribution (4). It was also the only election in Canadian history where fewer total seats were contested compared to the previous vote (264 instead of 265). Changes to the Constitution enacted since that time have rendered the prospect of similar reductions far less likely.
xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote.
28th Canadian parliamentfor a full list of those elected in the 1968 election.
Voter turnout: 76% of the eligible population voted.
28th Canadian Parliament
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