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1965 · members Canada members · 1972
Canadian federal election, 1968
264 seats in the 28th Canadian Parliament
June 25, 1968
First party Second party
Pierre Elliot Trudeau-2.jpg Robert Stanfield opposition leader of Canada.jpg
Leader Pierre Trudeau Robert Stanfield
Party Liberal PC
Leader since 1968 1967
Leader's seat Mount Royal Halifax
Last election 131 97
Seats won 154 72
Seat change +23 -25
Popular vote 3,686,801 2,548,949
Percentage 45.37% 31.36%
Swing +5.18% -1.05%
Third party Fourth party
TommyDouglas-c1971-crop.jpg
Leader Tommy Douglas Réal Caouette
Party New Democrat Ralliement créditiste
Leader since 1961 1963
Leader's seat Burnaby—Coquitlam
ran in Burnaby—Seymour (lost)
Témiscamingue
Last election 21 9
Seats won 22 14
Seat change +1 +5
Popular vote 1,378,263 360,404
Percentage 16.96% 4.43%
Swing -0.95% -0.22%
Canada 1968 Federal Election.svg


The Canadian federal election of 1968 was held on June 25, 1968, to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of 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 Hellyer and Robert Winters in 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 federalist Trudeau, 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 Premier of Saskatchewan Tommy Douglas led 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 Canadian parliament after the 1968 election

The Social Credit Party failed to win any seats. On the other hand, the Ralliement des créditistes (Social Credit Rally), the Québec wing of the party that had split from the English Canadian party, met with great success. The créditistes were a populist option appealing to social conservatives and Québec nationalists. They were especially strong in rural ridings and amongst poor voters. Party leader Réal Caouette campaigned against poverty, government indifference, and "la grosse finance" (big finance).

This was the first Canadian federal election to hold a leaders debate, on June 9, 1968. The debate included Trudeau, Stanfield, Douglas and in the latter part Caouette. Stanfield paid tribute to Robert F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated only three days prior [1].

The results of the election were sealed when on the night before the election a riot broke out at the St. Jean Baptiste Day parade 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.

Contents

National results

155
72
22
14
1
O
Party Party leader # of
candidates
Seats Popular vote
1965 Dissolution Elected % Change # % Change
     Liberal
Pierre Trudeau
262 131 128 154 +18.3% 3,686,801 45.37% +5.18%
     Progressive Conservative
Robert Stanfield
262 97 94 72 -25.8% 2,548,949 31.36% -1.05%
     New Democratic Party
Tommy Douglas
263 21 22 22 +4.8% 1,378,263 16.96% -0.95%
     Ralliement créditiste
Réal Caouette
72 9 8 14 +55.6% 360,404 4.43% -0.22%
     Independent 29 1 2 1 - 36,543 0.45% -0.23%
     Liberal-Labour
Pierre Trudeau[1]
1     1   10,144 0.12%  
     Social Credit
A.B. Patterson
32 5 4 - -100% 68,742 0.85% -2.82%
     Independent Liberal
 
11 - - - - 16,785 0.21% -0.01%
     Rhinoceros
Cornelius I
2     -   5,802 0.07% +0.07%
     Communist William Kashtan 14 - - - - 4,465 0.05% x
     Independent PC
 
5 1 - - -100% 2,762 0.03% -0.14%
     Démocratisation Économique   5     -   2,651 0.03%  
     Franc Lib   1     -   2,141 0.03%  
     Independent Conservative   1 - - - - 632 0.01% x
     Reform   1     -   420 0.01%  
     Conservative   1 - - - - 339 x x
     Esprit social H-G Grenier 1 - - - - 311 x x
     Socialist Labour   1 - - - - 202 x x
     Republican   1     -   175 x  
     New Canada Fred Reiner 1     -   148 x  
     National Socialist   1     -   89 x  
     Vacant 6  
Total 967 265 265 264 -0.4% 8,126,768 100%  
Sources: http://www.elections.ca History of Federal Ridings since 1867, Toronto Star, June 24, 1968.

Notes:

"% change" refers to change from previous election

x - less than 0.005% of the popular vote

"Dissolution" refers to party standings in the House of Commons immediately prior to the election call, not the results of the previous election.

  1. ^ - John Mercer Reid won as a Liberal-Labour candidate but remained a member of the Liberal Party caucus, led by Pierre Trudeau.

Results by province

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL NT YK Total
     Liberal Seats: 16 4 2 5 63 56 5 1 - 1 1 - 154
     Popular vote: 41.8 35.7 27.1 41.5 46.2 53.6 44.4 38.0 45.0 42.8 63.8 47.0 45.4
     Progressive Conservative Seats: - 15 5 5 17 4 5 10 4 6 - 1 72
     Vote: 18.9 51.0 37.0 31.4 32.0 21.1 49.7 55.2 51.8 52.7 23.4 48.0 31.4
     New Democratic Seats: 7 - 6 3 6 - - - - - - - 22
     Vote: 32.6 9.4 35.7 25.0 20.6 7.5 4.9 6.7 3.2 4.4 12.8 5.0 17.0
     Ralliement créditiste Seats:           14 -           14
     Vote:           16.4 0.7           4.4
     Independent Seats: - - - - 1 - -           1
     Vote: 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.6 0.6 0.2           0.4
     Liberal-Labour Seats:         1               1
     Vote:         0.3               0.1
Total seats: 23 19 13 13 88 74 10 11 4 7 1 1 264
Parties that won no seats:
     Social Credit Vote: 6.4 1.9   1.5 xx         0.1     0.8
     Independent Liberal Vote:   1.5     0.1 0.2             0.2
     Rhinoceros Vote:           0.3             0.1
     Communist Vote: 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 xx             0.1
     Independent PC Vote:   0.2     xx xx 0.1 0.1         xx
     Démocratisation Écon. Vote:           0.1             xx
     Franc Lib Vote:           0.1             xx
     Independent Cons. Vote:       0.2                 xx
     Reform Vote: 0.1                       xx
     Conservative Vote:           xx             xx
     Espirit social Vote:           xx             xx
     Socialist Labour Vote:         xx               xx
     Republican Vote: xx                       xx
     New Canada Vote:         xx               xx
     National Socialist Vote:           xx             xx

xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote.

See: 28th Canadian parliament for a full list of those elected in the 1968 election.

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Notes

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