Column: Back to the future in Canadian elections

Maryscott Greenwood and Andrew Shaw

In the iconic 1980s movie, “Back to the Future II,” Marty McFly traveled through time to Oct. 21, 2015, where electric cars hover above the streets, “Jaws 19” is showing in theaters, and the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. When the first “Back to the Future” was released in 1985, Pierre Trudeau had just stepped down the previous year as Canada’s prime minister and head of the Liberal Party. Fast forward to present day, Pierre Trudeau’s son — Justin Trudeau — has led the Liberals to victory in the federal elections Oct. 19.

Canada’s 42nd General Election was the first election in Canada’s history in which a political party went from third to first. The Liberal Party earned the largest increase in seats in history as well as winning or leading in 184 of 338 available seats as of the latest vote count. The Prime Minister designate has also said he will form a cabinet divided equally between men and women, another first for Canada. The turnout for this election is reportedly about 68 percent, the highest since 1993. The length of the campaign — 78 days, is the longest in Canada’s modern history.

The new federal government in Canada could offer an opportunity to accelerate the energy and climate relationship between Canada and the U.S. While Trudeau supports Keystone XL, he campaigned on pursuing a more aggressive climate approach, including convening, within his first 90 days in office, a meeting of all Provincial leaders to develop a common climate change framework. This approach could expedite coordination between the U.S. and Canada during this December’s Paris United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference.

The Canadian election was notable for its pivot from the Conservative’s depiction of Trudeau as “just not ready,” to Trudeau’s mantra of “ready for change.” The Liberals ran an essentially positive campaign, focusing on a new generation of leadership for Canada. When he arrives at 24 Sussex, it will be a homecoming as Justin Trudeau has not lived there since his father was prime minister in the late 1970s. Father and son serving as prime minister — another first for Canada. It’s back to the future in Canada.

Maryscott Greenwood and Andrew Shaw are with Dentons' public policy and regulation practice in Washington, D.C., where they specialize in U.S.-Canada relations. They wrote this for InsideSources.com.