Anticipation of a surprise Canadian federal election, 2005 was widespread since the Canadian federal election, 2004 resulted in a minority government.

This election did not occur, it was deferred to become the Canadian federal election, 2006. The circumstances around the 2005 crisis were as follows:

In late March 2005, there were several parties spoiling for an election: the Conservative Party of Canada, Bloc Quebecois and Liberal Party of Canada all seemed quite ready for it. Two other parties really did not!

In March 2005, the Bloc Quebecois were threatening to bring down the Government of Canada over its Canadian federal budget, 2005 in April. Also, the Conservative Party of Canada was warning it might trigger an election over same-sex marriage and a move to control greenhouse gas emissions under Environment Canada. As of 2005-11 the Conservatives had still not stated support for the Kyoto Protocol.

These two parties plus rogue Liberals and two independents were technically able to cause a non-confidence motion to pass. The NDP made noise to this effect but was considered unlikely to actually vote against the budget - see below. The Green Party of Canada was totally unprepared for this election date as it was in the midst of the GPC Council Crisis brought on by struggle for control of the party platform in which one faction strongly supported the Green Party of Canada Living Platform as the way to create it, another sought to author it centrally with spin doctors.

A Canadian federal minority government typically only lasts an average of 18 months, some have lasted only a few months, so the possibility of the government falling was very real, and had huge impact on events:

formal process

An election can only be presaged by a writ drop in which the Government of Canada dissolves. It is possible for a new Government to be formed without an election, say by Stephen Harper, if he could put together a governing coalition. Though this seems unlikely, it can't be ruled out, especially as there is commonality in some positions with Bloc Quebecois on reducing the federal tax load and avoiding intervention in provincial jurisdiction.

effect on parties

The Conservatives, Bloc and Liberals all seemed ready in March 2005 to fight an election. All three took specific issue with each other's positions and appeared to be posturing to set the ballot question:
  • The Bloc sought to make an issue of favourable treatment of NS and NL in offshore oil revenue for which there was no "balancing" goodies for Quebec, and about which Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty loudly complained, making it a very credible claim that Ontario and Quebec were short changed
  • The Liberals wanted Ballistic Missile Defense and the Kyoto Protocol as the main issues. Pro-BMD anti-Kyoto positions are held by George W. Bush, Ralph Klein and Stephen Harper. This is all the public needs to know, at least in Ontario and Maritimes.
  • The Conservatives seemed equally willing to make an issue of Kyoto, but would like to avoid BMD in favour of same sex marriage. Their determination to raise this issue again and again carried through at least to the early days of the Canadian federal election, 2006.

The parties that seemed unready:


The NDP did not seem to want an election. Its coffers were empty and were only refilled by the $1.75 per vote fund, and no union donation to political party or candidate is now legal federally.

Inexperienced leader Jack Layton may not have realized that he has played heavily into the Conservatives' and Bloc's hands by rejecting the "NDP" Canadian Senate appointment of Lillian Dyck. The simultaneous appointment of Romeo D'Allaire and Ruth Lynn who are popular with NDP supporters plays against the NDP's anti-Senate position, which is pure rhetoric at this point. The Senate is not an issue to fight elections on, most strategists agree.

Layton also criticized the Canadian federal budget 2005 for not moving huge energy subsidy from fossil fuel to renewable energy - rather than cut energy subsidies and institute full cost accounting, without the federal government constantly trying to set a tilted playing field up.

Meanwhile, the Liberals were strategically positioned to fight the election on issues the NDP agree with them on: BMD, Kyoto and if necessary same-sex marriage. The NDP could well have suffered seriously by a vote shift to the Liberals to support these positions.


The Green Party of Canada was very poorly prepared for a spring 2005 election. They had not sorted out finances nor even how to distribute the per vote fund, and this remained a major source of contention within the Party, as the GPC ERCT derailed the GPC Revenue Sharing committee and attempted to keep all funds centralized. It also tried to centralize policy. A snap election was actually the excuse for these moves:

The GPC ERCT was granted daily governance powers by GPC Council in October 2004 in case of a fall election. As it appeared likely that the federal budget would pass, the group was dissolved and replaced by the GPC Management team.

The ERCT failed dismally in its duty to prepare for such a snap election: As of 2005-12 there was still no GPC protocol to state exactly what must happen the day of the writ drop and the days immediately thereafter. Lack of such an explicit election protocol that would permit the work to be effectively distributed via volunteer centres, claim party dissidents ejected in February and March 2005, See GPC election protocol for any proposals on this.

At the onset of the Canadian federal election, 2006, just as the dissidents predicted, there was negative publicity on the Greens for having no platform ready in time. This despite having six full months to resuscitate Green Party of Canada Living Platform and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on media - none on the processes that led however to a platform.

The Greens also could not have run a full slate in early 2005: The 2004 election relied heavily on the party's volunteer centres and borrowed money to pay candidate deposits, but it had not collected the money, hadn't received much of the per vote fund, had debts, and was facing a potential GPC EDA strike to attempt to immediately remove outgoing GPC Leader Jim Harris and the Friends of Crookes who financed him, and have been interfering internally in GPC protocols: a clear conflict of interest.

The only hope for the Greens was that the public will be so disgusted with the other parties for calling an election, that they will receive a protest vote big enough to hold even, or gain slightly to something around 5%. But this would be entirely due to circumstances, not repeatable. These circumstances may however have held over to the 2006 date.


"The Green Party of Canada Living Platform at demonstrates an obsession with administrivia and inability to advance all platform planks to be ready with a consensus platform." - Craig Hubley in May 2005. This insider's prediction was validated, as no platform was ready even by December. Point to the dissidents!

LivingPlatform.CA itself reported a good many of the GPC Council Crisis issues, as per internal links above. itself continues to do so.

The GFDL corpus articleen: wikipedia: Canadian federal election, 2005 has now been redirected, but its page history contains some background on the issues and poses around this crisis.