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Don't Vote... If
Voting in Canada
First, just to make sure we're all on the same page, here is some info about the different levels of government and the electoral process in Canada.
(update: the formatting of this hub has been changed to make it more mobile friendly. No content has been changed)
Canada: A Constitutional Monarchy
In Canada, we have federal elections about every four years, with a five year term maximum. There are exceptions for various reasons, but beyond those, our elections are supposed to be on the third Monday of October, in the 4th calendar year after the previous election.
For those who aren’t familiar with Canada’s electoral system (pdf), as a constitutional monarchy, our head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In Canada, her title is Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
Her federal representative in Canada is currently Governor General David Johnston.
Next in the federal hierarchy is the elected Prime Minister. Provincially, the Queen’s representative is the Lieutenant Governor, and the elected provincial leader is the Premier.
In our electoral system, we don’t vote directly for the Prime Minister, nor the Premier. We vote for local candidates – MPs (Members of Parliament) at the federal level, or MLA’s (Members of the Legislative Assembly) at the provincial level. For the 2015 election, there are 338 federal ridings, and a total of 20 registered political parties.
Yes, you read that right. Twenty.
This includes parties such as the Rhinoceros Party, the Marijuana Party and the Pirate Party of Canada.
The “big three” are the Conservative Party of Canada, currently in power with Stephen Harper as our Prime Minister, the Liberal Party of Canada with Justin Trudeau as leader, and the New Democratic Party, currently the Official Opposition, with Thomas Mulcair as leader. Most ridings have one of these three to choose from. There is also the Green Party, under Elizabeth May, who is also the only elected Green MP as of this writing, and the Bloc Québécois, under Gilles Duceppe, which is a party that runs only in Quebec.
The party that has the most candidates elected becomes the ruling party, and their leader, who also has to run as MP or MLA, becomes Prime Minister or Premier. The only people who can vote directly for them are those who live in their ridings. Which means it’s possible for a leader to lose in their own riding, yet still become Prime Minister or Premier. This has actually happened to Prime Ministers 5 times in Canadian history. The last time it happened was in 1945.
One thing that’s important to note; when we vote, Federally or Provincially, we each vote only within our own riding. So for the 2015 election, there isn’t just one big election, but 338 little ones. Even those who live in the ridings of party leaders aren’t voting for a Premier or Prime Minister. They are voting for an MP or an MLA.
I live in Alberta. At the time of this writing, we are just a couple of months past a provincial election, and are in the throes of an unusually long federal election campaign period – 78 days instead of the usual month and a bit (there is a minimum length of 36 days). This is the longest federal campaign period since 1872, which was 96 days long.
Meanwhile, in the US, campaigns in preparation for the federal election have been going on for some time. For my friends in the US; I truly don’t know how you can put up with the seemingly endless campaigning!
Alberta’s election of an NDP government under Premier Rachel Notley stunned the entire country, but none more than Albertan’s themselves.As often happens after an election, many people bemoan the low percentage of voters. I soon began seeing a version of this graphic here – identical, except that the text was changed to reflect Albertan parties; obviously, the bars where for visual purposes only, since Alberta’s numbers and parties were quite different.I wonder if the people sharing it had any idea it was “borrowed” from the UK?
Regardless of the specific info, the sentiment is the same.Election results would be very different, if only more people came out to vote, and there are always those who bring up the idea of mandatory voting laws.Of course, everyone seems to think that, if all those non-voters voted, they would be voting for their party or candidate that lost.No one ever seems to think that, if all those people did come out to vote, their party or candidate still would have lost!
To vote or not to vote?
While I have never been comfortable with the idea of forcing people to vote (which really seems to contradict the whole concept of a free democracy), I, too, strongly believe in the importance of voting. It is a privilege fought for and hard won. It is an important civic duty, and a way to be heard and to participate in the democratic process. I had little patience for those who didn’t bother to vote, and I admit to having felt contempt for at least some segments of those who didn’t vote.
Over the years, however, I have come to change my views.
Oh, I still believe that voting is exceedingly important. I believe everyone who qualifies to vote, has a duty to do so.
But as time has gone by, I have become less draconian in my views. In fact, I would go so far as to tell some people…
For the Canadians
In a federal election, if you could vote right now, who would you vote for? (I am not including the BQ, since only Quebecers can vote for them)
Voting Against (strategic voting)
The most recent Alberta election should stand as the greatest example against “strategic” voting.
First, let’s look at what “strategic” voting normally means. This is a protest vote. The idea behind strategic voting is that, people who don’t want a particular party to win, instead vote for the party/candidate in their riding that they think is most likely to win.
There are several problems with this, but before I go into them, it is worth it to point out that that is NOT what happened in Alberta.
After years of majority Progressive Conservative rule, and a series of scandals, Alberta voters – predominantly conservative – were more than ready to oust the party. Predictions where in general agreement that the PCs would still win a minority government. When the socialist NDP won, people were stunned. How did that happen?
If you were to listen to the NDP supporters, you would believe that the people finally came to their senses and turned socialist, giving Premier Notley and her merry band the mandate to rule.
Surveys and polls show otherwise.
What they show is that the majority of people who voted NDP were, in truth, voting against the PCs. Reading comments from people on social media, I saw many who said that they voted for the NDP because, while they would normally vote PC, they couldn’t bring themselves to do so this time, so they voted for the party they thought was least likely to win. They couldn’t even say they voted for their local NDP candidate, since so many ridings never saw their candidates. They hadn’t bothered to campaign.
The end result is an accidental government; one that, a couple of months later, has already put our province in $6 billion of debt, and whose ideology is contributing to a massive economic downturn that is only just beginning.
This brings me to the crux of the problem with strategic voting. It is not possible to vote against a candidate. You can only vote for someone.
People who say they intend to vote “anyone but…” a certain candidate or party are in danger of doing exactly what Alberta voters did; voting in a party that may be the polar opposite of what they actually stand for. They are in danger of voting in another accidental government.
Strategic voting has another problem, on an individual level. By voting “against” someone, the voter is compromising their own integrity. It’s a dishonest vote. It is also manipulative, and an offense to free democracy.
What to do Instead
Always remember, when you cast your vote, you are voting FOR someone, not against them. Vote for the person or party you WANT to win. Not only will you be voting with integrity, but it just might give some lesser known parties a chance to actually win more ridings, and give the Big Three a run for their money.
Otherwise, do us all a favour, stay home and don’t bother voting.
Voting based on gender
In Canada, our Head of State is a woman. We’ve had a number of female Governor Generals. We’ve had a female Prime Minister. We have several female Premiers. Some of them have been good at their jobs. Others have sucked, big time.
In other words, there’s no difference.
So it irritates me when I hear people saying that we all need to vote for someone because “we need a woman in office” (looking at a lot of Hillary supporters on this one).
No. No we don’t. We need competent people in office. Gender is irrelevant.
I’ll be blunt. If the primary reason you intend to vote for someone is because they are female, you are sexist.
You are being every bit as sexist as the person who says they won’t for someone because they are female. Sexism is sexism, whichever direction it comes from.
If you have a candidate that is playing the gender card, that’s a good warning that this is a candidate you want to stay away from. Because they are being sexist, too.
What to do instead
Remember: gender is irrelevant. Vote based on a candidate’s accomplishments and integrity.
This is not to say that a person’s gender doesn’t provide valuable perspective; it certainly can. But if gender is the primary reason you are choosing to vote for someone (or to not vote for them), realize that your motivations are sexist. If you can’t see beyond a candidate’s gender, do us all a favour; stay home and don’t vote.
Voting based on skin colour
I’ve already mentioned that Canada’s Head of State is a woman. Next in line is the Governor General, and several of them have been women. This includes Adrienne Clarkson (1999-2005), who was born in Hong Kong. It also includes the woman who made the office of GG incredibly cool; Michaëlle Jean (2005-2010). She was born in Haiti.
Keep in mind that the position of Prime Minister is equal to that of the US President. As the Queen’s representative, the GG outranks the PM. I’ll let you think about that for a moment.
Like gender, skin colour is irrelevant. Yet, we still have people who vote for candidates based on melanin content. It was disheartening to see the large numbers of people in the US who openly stated that they voted for Barack Obama because he is black. Nothing else. There is also that element that voted for him to prove they were not racist.
Once again, I’ll be blunt. If the primary reason you are voting for someone is because of the colour of their skin, you are being racist.
If you are refusing to vote for a candidate because of the colour of their skin, you are being racist.
If you are voting for a candidate of a certain ethnicity to prove you aren’t a racist, you are being racist.
It doesn’t matter what colour their skin is. If it has anything to do with why you are voting for them, or choosing not to vote for them, you are being racist.
What to do instead
Listen to Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Choose your candidate based on the content of their character, not their skin colour.
If you can’t do that, do us all a favour, stay home and don’t vote.
Voting based on mainstream media
Oh, this is a hard one!
It’s almost impossible to not be inundated by the media during an election campaign. I don’t mean just reporting on candidates. I mean “in depth” analysis, “gotcha” stories, artificially inflated scandals and editorial spins.
The mainstream media is supposed to be neutral in their news reports. Editorially, a newspaper or TV station can back whomever they want, but when it comes to reporting the news, one would hope they could put their official bias in check and act with due diligence.
Sadly, those days, if they ever existed, are over.
In Canada, the problem is even deeper. For the 2015 election, we’ve got more than two dozen groups registered with Elections Canada as “third parties.” What this means is that these groups can spend a limited amount of money on campaigns to influence voters. While some of these groups are single issue and non-partisan, others are partially funded by non-Canadian groups that are trying to influence Canadian voters. Which is disturbing enough all on its own.
One of these “third party” groups is the Canadian Media Guild.
This is a union representing more than 6000 journalists, working in various media companies across the country, including the CBC, which gets a billion dollars in federal funding per year.
This makes it impossible to trust mainstream media reporting. Even if an individual journalist might hold political opinions that do not agree with their union, can we really trust that they will report impartially, and risk the wrath of their union?
Then, just to make things even more complicated, there are many online sources that tout themselves as news sources, but are in reality, run by special interest groups or funded by questionable sources.
As voters, how can we know who to trust? Is it any wonder that trust in the media has dropped so low?
What to do instead
Unfortunately, we’re going to have to take anything we read in the media with a large grain of salt. We cannot assume anything we read is even accurate, never mind unbiased. In order to find out for ourselves, we will have to go to the source as much as possible; read entire transcripts of speeches, or view full videos if they are available. If an event is being reported on, see if you can contact people who were actually there. Take the extra effort to verify accuracy through whatever means are available to you.
It will take extra effort, but it’s worth it. Unfortunately, a lot of us have neither the time nor energy to do that kind of research. On the other hand, sadly, many voters won’t bother making that effort; not because they don’t have the time or energy, but because the media is telling them what they want/expect to hear. They don’t want facts. They want their opinions validated.
If your primary source of information about candidates and parties is from the mainstream media, and you can’t/won’t take the effort to verify information, do us all a favour. Stay home and don’t vote.
Voting based on social media
As if it weren’t hard enough to be properly informed because of mainstream media bias, using social media to stay informed can be even worse.
On the one hand, it is certainly possible to use social media as a way to keep oneself connected with a variety of viewpoints. Personally, I use Facebook, and I like to have people on my friends list from all political spectrums and social views. Through them, I find information that isn’t being reported in the mainstream media. I like to see what “the other side” thinks about things.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to social media, and that side is a cesspool. It’s why I avoid most forms of social media.
The problem with social media is that it’s too easy to share things without checking first, or missing things (I’ve shared a few things myself that, while they were accurate, I missed the dates and they turned out to be years old and no longer applicable). Worse, it’s too easy for people to say stupid things. In some ways, I suppose that’s a good thing. We’ve already had several candidates “outed” as racists, terrorist supporters, etc. However, social media has become a tool for people to spread misinformation and outright falsehoods, with exceptional speed. “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes” no longer captures today’s reality. These days, a lie can circle the world a dozen times, while the truth is ignored, rejected or mocked.
For too many people, social media is pretty much the only place they get their political information, and that is truly a disaster. It no longer becomes a problem of “low information” voters, but wildly misinformed voters. Like this example.
Another example comes to mind that Alberta voters will probably recognise. A provincial candidate had written a blog post, years before. That blog post was intended for his specific audience, who would have understood its context. Another blogger found that post, then wrote his own article about it, taken out of context, describing the post as being hateful towards a specific group, then went on about how shocked he was by it. The candidate and his post was used to paint the entire party and its other candidates as hateful bigots. The attack piece was shared repeatedly on social media. A social media campaign began, based on the claims of one blogger’s article about another blogger’s post, escalating it in ways that only social media can do. Then the mainstream media picked it up. Within days, a party that would very likely have won the election, didn’t. All because of a social media fearmongering campaign of hate, hostility and misinformation.
I read the original posts all this was based on, and the accusations of hate against this person was unfounded. In fact, I found it to be very thought provoking, articulate and interesting. Unlike the claims made, it did not portray this group of people in hateful ways, but instead turned the focus inward, causing the readers to reflect on themselves.
Yet all anyone seemed to know about those posts is what this other blogger interpreted it as, and that misinformation effectively slandered and defamed an entire party.
The end result was the re-election of a party that was promptly beset by scandals, the Premier resigned in disgrace, the new Premier called an early election, and now we have our accidental government.
How different things might have been if people hadn’t fallen for a false social media campaign.
What to do instead
If at all possible, stay away from social media during an election campaign. It’ll be much better for your mental health. If you can’t, be critical of what goes through your feed. It’s very tempting to jump onto something that validates your viewpoint. In my view, those are the ones you should be more critical of. Especially if you intend to share or comment on it.
If social media is your only source of information, however, please do us all a favour; stay home and don’t vote.
Voting based on habit
“I’m voting for [party] because that’s who my parents voted for. And my grandparents. And my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and third cousin, twice removed.”
“I’m voting for [party] because I’ve always voted for them.”
“I’m voting for [party] because that’s who all my friends are voting for.”
I’m really rather surprised by how often I see some variation of this. Especially after the party they vote for actually does get in, then proves to be a disaster.
Voting out of habit is just plain lazy. So is voting a certain way because your family or the people around you does. This sort of apathy does no one any good.
I understand there can be a lot of pressure to vote a certain way from those around you. Just look at how black conservatives are treated in the US. In Canada, I have friends with visible disabilities being told they have to vote NDP, because they are disabled. Apparently, if you’re a wheelchair user, you are only allowed to be a socialist. Women are also told they must vote either Liberal or NDP. Heaven help you if you’re female and conservative. The same holds for religious views, or if you’re an immigrant.
What to do instead
If you are part of a group that demands you vote a certain way, even if it goes against your personal views, you might want to re-examine your social circles! It’s a hard thing to do if that involves your own family (thankfully, I am not in this position!) or closest friends. There can be a lot of peer pressure to vote a certain way. You may need to keep your political views a secret. A sad position to be in, and one that should not exist.
On the other hand, if the only reason you vote a certain way is out of habit, or because that’s what your peer group is doing, without making any effort to examine party platforms, etc., please do us a favour and stay home; don’t vote.
Voting based on single issues only
For a lot of people, there is one thing that is so important to them, it becomes the only thing they base their vote on.
I get that. I really do.
Unfortunately, that rarely translates into voting well.
In our last provincial election, a person in a group I’m part of was having difficulties choosing who to vote for based on a single issue. The problem was that she had only 3 candidates in her riding. Two of them were running for parties that were unsupportive of her issue. The third was somewhat better, but that party had so many other issues, she couldn’t vote for her local candidate because of them. The only party that supported her single issue did not have a candidate in her riding.
That left her in quite the quandary.
As important as a single issue is to any of us, we just can’t base our votes on one thing. There may, indeed, be a party that holds a position that matches your single issue, but be completely against what you stand for in other issues. This is especially true of social issues, but is also true of such things as education, military, health, economy, etc.
If you vote based on a single issue, chances are you’ll be stabbing yourself in the back on other issues.
What to do instead
Examine party platforms on all issues. Be aware of what the government’s role actually is on them. All too often, the lines between federal and provincial concerns are blurred. Educate yourself on where responsibility lies first; if you have a federal candidate or party that is making promises about something that is under provincial jurisdiction (or the other way around), then that is a problem.
Contact your local candidates with questions on a variety of topics, not just your single issue.
Yes, your single issue is an important reason to choose one party over another, but if that is blinding you to platform issues; especially if yours is an issue that is not within the purview of the level of government being elected, then please, don’t inflict your issue on everyone else. Do the rest of us a favour. Stay home, and don’t vote.
Voting based on emotionalism
Ah, yes. I just had to go there, didn’t I?
I don’t know about others, but I have noticed a lot of changes in elections over the few years in particular. I believe a lot of it has to do with the increasing influence of social media.
I am seeing increasing numbers of people basing their decisions purely on emotionalism, rather than logic or even information. I have seen people completely reject hard evidence, and even defend the indefensible, purely out of emotionalism. Then turn around and claim that they are the ones being rational and logical.
Many years ago, I came to the conclusion that logic is what people use to justify their emotional responses.
Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Emotion can soften the hard edges of pure logic, while logic can temper the excessiveness of emotion. We need both.
We also need to be honest with ourselves and recognise when we are letting our emotions cloud our thinking to the point that we are accepting falsehoods.
In the past few years, however, the one type of emotionalism that I have seen increasing is, plain and simple, hate – and that hate is most often coming from those who claim some sort of superiority of their own position as being one of love and tolerance.
In my experience, there are none more intolerant that those who demand tolerance the loudest. The most hate is coming from those who claim to be for love. The greatest bigotry, from those who are the loudest in accusing others of bigotry.
Our culture has become one where the very definitions of words are being vigorously twisted in meaning by special interest groups, who are then forcing everyone else to accept those definitions through bullying, open hostility and even through force of law. All of which is justified in the name of “equality” (one of those words that has had its meaning changed), or some such.
This current federal election in Canada is rife with emotionalism. The level of hatred against our current Prime Minister is staggering, not only by its scale, but also by its dishonesty. When I see people throwing out terms like “dictator” and “fascist,” it not only demonstrates a level of intellectual dishonesty – or ignorance – but it is extremely offensive to those who have survived, or are still living under, real dictatorships. Ironically, these very same people also seem to be in favor of totalitarianism, but are completely blinded to that reality. You cannot accuse one side of dictatorship while at the same time advocating for changes that restrict basic human rights and freedoms, simply because other people disagree with you.
If I were to ask you why you hold a particular position, and all you can do is rant about how terrible and hateful and [fill in the blank] people who hold opposing views are, then you are allowing emotionalism to overrule your intellect. It is worse if you can’t even accurately articulate what those with opposing viewpoints actually believe. I have encountered way too many cases where people decry another group because of what they think the other side believes, says, does, etc., not what they actually believe, say, do, etc. Then there are the alarming instances I’ve encountered where, on discovering that they have been attacking their opponents based on a falsehood, they defend it because “it sounds like something they would have done, anyhow.”
That, my friends, is a blatant example of emotionalism.
What to do instead
This is an area where introspection is necessary. If you are able to examine your own behaviour, recognise emotionalism is blinding your ability to critically look at all candidates and party platforms, then congratulations. You’ve taken the first step in recognising your own bias (we all have bias!). As you examine issues, talk to candidates and discuss platforms, it’s absolutely appropriate to become passionate about things. However, if that passion is so overwhelming that it prevents you from being able to accept cold, hard facts – or worse, causing you to become hateful, prejudiced and bigoted – then it’s time to step back and revaluate.
If you can’t do that, then please do us all a favour; stay home and don’t vote.
What other option is there?
So you’ve managed to get to the end of this, and you can honestly say that you do not intend to vote strategically, you are blind to ethnicity and gender, you go beyond mainstream and social media for your information, you do not allow your heart to overrule your head, you don’t give in to peer pressure, and you’re basing your decision on more than a single issue. You’ve taken the time to talk to candidates and examined party platforms.
You’ve done your homework and, as a result, you have found that there is no one in your riding that you are willing to vote for. They all suck.
At the same time, you want to do your civic duty and vote. You don’t want to stay home.
What do you do?
Unfortunately, there really isn’t much choice.
Spoil your ballot
One option is to accept your ballot, then deliberately spoil it. In Canadian elections, anything other than an X next to a candidate’s name is a spoiled ballot. The problem with this option is that spoiled ballots are simply rejected when votes are counted. Yes, the number of rejected ballots are counted, but there is nothing recorded as to why they were rejected. That renders it a meaningless gesture, no different than staying home and not voting.
Decline your ballot
Another option is to not accept your ballot in the first place. In provincial elections, some provinces have a procedure for this. Not in a federal election. Here is what Elections Canada has to say about declining a ballot.
1.2.2 Option to Decline Ballot
There is a growing perception among some of Canada's electorate that there should be a way in which an elector can register his or her dissatisfaction with the political process by declining his or her ballot. The Canada Elections Act currently does not provide any authority for that to be done.17
In order to remain vital and meaningful, the vote must remain responsive to the needs of all Canadians. The time may have come to allow an elector a formal means of expressing dissatisfaction with the political system in a manner that is not only peaceful, but is meaningful as well. Such a change at the federal level would mirror similar innovations that have taken place in a number of provinces: Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and the Yukon – all of which have provisions in their electoral statutes for ballots to be declined and of which Manitoba's may serve as a model.18
Recommendation: The Canada Elections Act should be amended to provide for the means for a ballot to be declined, recorded and reported as such in the official ballot results and which respects the principle of the secrecy of the vote.
And that’s where we stand now. Declining your ballot during a federal election is, once again, no different than staying home and not voting.
A difficult position
Until we get to a point where ballots also include a “none of the above” option, or some other way to register a protest vote, we’re stuck.
Many people talk about voting as choosing the lesser of multiple evils. I’ve heard others describe themselves as holding their noses and picking the party they think would do the least damage.
Not a good position to be in, and after many years, I’ve come to completely understand those who would rather not vote at all, than anyone they don’t want to vote for at all.
My final thoughts
Of all the reasons listed above, and several of them are often combined, there is one that is the worst, when it comes to a liberal, free democracy.
No, it’s not the racists and sexists; as abhorrent as their views may be, they are at least being honest. No, it’s not the single issue voters, who are at least passionate about a cause. It’s not even the uninformed or misinformed; they are at least voting based on what they believe to be the truth.
Of the list, the worst has to be strategic voting. While one can understand the emotionalism behind such a desire, this is the position that is based on dishonesty. Since we can only vote for, not against, a strategic vote is a lie. It is a choice that shows a voter is willing to compromise their integrity. It is a deliberate attempt to manipulate the results and counter other people’s votes. It is an abuse of our hard won privilege to vote; to have a say in government. Strategic voting can have disastrous consequences that affect us all.
Unfortunately, it is those who vote strategically also tend to be the ones most motivated to vote, as their position tends to be founded on many of the other reasons listed.
The right to vote is not a human right, but a civil right, granted by government. People have fought and died for that right. It’s bad enough that there are people who vote without knowing who they are even voting for, and take no effort to inform themselves (Twitter doesn’t count!). I find it reprehensible that so many people will use their votes for malicious purposes.
If you are tempted to vote strategically, please pause to examine your motivations. At the very least, value your own integrity enough to vote honestly, rather than deceptively.
Otherwise, please do us all a favour and stay home. Don’t vote.
Do you vote?
Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to comment below. While I will not be able to monitor the comments constantly, and I encourage lively debate, I will remove those comments I feel cross the line.
Update: Januray 31, 2016
As I write this, it has been less than 4 months since Canada's new government, under Justin Trudeau, was sworn in on November 4, 2015.
The election of Justin Trudeau, son of infamous former PM, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, demonstrates every point made in this article. We now have as a PM a man who was a part time drama teacher and camp counselor, who went to university a couple of times but never completed his courses to get a degree, and almost no political experience. The Liberal party selected him as leader over an astronaut. Why? Most likely because of his name. His campaign promises included operating on deficit spending, and stated that budgets balance themselves.
Not only did he get elected PM, but he won a large majority, even though his percentage of the popular vote was almost identical to the previous government's win. Also a majority, opponents immediately claimed the Conservatives did not have a legitimate win, because less than 40% of the popular vote when to Conservative candidates. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, these same people have no problem with their guy also getting a majority - and a larger one, at that - with less than 40% of the popular vote.
So how did he win?
The same way the NDP won in Alberta. By accident.
There was a lot of protest voting, a lot of voting "against", vote swapping, "strategic" voting, and in once case, a woman even promised to send nude photos of herself to anyone who could prove they voted for anyone but the Conservatives. The media played its part, of course, plus diligent third party campaigning by groups that were known to be receiving funding from foreign sources.
On top of that, many voted for him because of his (apparent) good looks and his famous name. Many women openly stated they were planning to vote for him (meaning, whomever their local Liberal candidate was) was because Justin Trudeau was someone they wanted to have sex with, while also admitting their own ignorance of such things as policies and party platforms.
I wish I were kidding.
Despite all those efforts to control the election, the Liberals still only managed to get the same percentage of votes as the Conservatives in the previous election. Their majority win was due to the number of ridings they won with that percentage.
So now Canada has an accidental Prime Minister as well as an accidental Premier.