List of Canadian federal general elections

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This article provides a summary of results for Canadian general elections (where all seats are contested) to the House of Commons, the elected lower half of Canada's federal bicameral legislative body, the Parliament of Canada. The number of seats has increased steadily over time, from 180 for the first election to the current total of 338. The current federal government structure was established in 1867 by the Constitution Act.

For federal by-elections (for one or a few seats as a result of retirement, etc.) see List of federal by-elections in Canada. For the eight general elections of the Province of Canada held in 1843 to 1864 before confederation in 1867, see List of elections in the Province of Canada. There were also earlier elections in Canada, such as for the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada (held in 1792–1836, now part of Ontario) and the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada (held in 1792–1834, now part of Quebec).

Two political parties have dominated politics in Canada: the Liberal Party and the historic Conservative party (known as the Progressive Conservative Party from 1942 to 2003). If one regards the modern Conservative Party as the successor to the historic one, then these are the only two parties to have formed a government, although often as the lead party in a minority or coalition government with one or more smaller parties (the 1917 win was by a pro-conscription Unionist coalition of former Liberals and Conservatives).

Although government has primarily been a two-party system, Canadian federal politics has been a multi-party affair since the 1920s, during which there was significant parliamentary presence of the Progressive Party and the United Farmers movement. They were supplanted by the Social Credit Party and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in the 1930s. The CCF evolved into the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1961. The Social Credit Party and the CCF/NDP won the third and fourth most seats between them from the 1930s, until the Social Credit Party failed to win any seats in the 1980 election.

Since 1980, the NDP has remained a presence in the Canadian parliament, but the situation amongst other non-government parties has been more complex. The Progressive Conservative Party never recovered from its spectacular defeat in the 1993 election (when it went from being the majority government with 169 seats, to just two seats and the loss of official party status). Right-wing politics has since seen the rise and fall of the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance, followed by the rise to government of the new Conservative Party. Further, in 1993 the separatist Bloc Québécois won seats for the first time. It has been a constant presence in parliament since then.

Summary of results[edit]

Party colour key
  Liberal   Reform
New Democratic Canadian Alliance
Progressive Conservative
Anti-Confederate Liberal-Conservative
Conservative (historic)[1]
Progressive Conservative
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Liberal-Progressive
Social Credit Bloc Québécois
United Farmers Unionist coalition

The third, fourth, and fifth parties' results are included in "Other" if the party did not win at least four seats in an election at some point in its history. Results for parties placing sixth or lower (as in the 1926 election) are also included in "Other", as are Independent seats.

No. Year Summary Government Official opposition Third party Fourth party Fifth party Other Total seats
1st 1867 The Liberal-Conservative Party (commonly known as the Conservative Party), led by John A. Macdonald, is elected to form Canada's first government, defeating the Liberal Party and its de facto leader George Brown. Brown does not win his riding of Ontario South. In Nova Scotia, Anti-Confederates under Joseph Howe win 17 of 19 seats after campaigning against confederation, but later sit with the Liberals. 100[2] 62 18 0 180
2nd 1872 Prime Minister Macdonald's Conservatives are re-elected with a minority, defeating Liberals and their de facto leader Edward Blake. 100[3] 95 5 200
3rd 1874 The Liberals, led by Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, retain power with a majority after having formed a government after the Conservatives, under former prime minister John A. Macdonald, lost the confidence of the House in 1873. The Conservatives drop the word "Liberal" from "Liberal-Conservative Party" in 1873, but Macdonald and some other members continue to run under the original party name. First federal election by secret ballot. 129 65[2] 12 206
4th 1878 Former prime minister John A. Macdonald's Conservative Party defeats Prime Minister Mackenzie's Liberals, returning Macdonald to power with a second majority. 134[2] 63 9 206
5th 1882 Prime Minister Macdonald's Conservatives win re-election with a third majority, defeating the Liberals under Blake. 134[4] 73 4 211
6th 1887 Prime Minister Macdonald's Conservatives win re-election with a fourth majority, defeating the Liberals under Blake. 124[4] 80 11 215
7th 1891 Prime Minister Macdonald's Conservatives win re-election with a fifth majority. Macdonald defeats Liberal opposition leader Wilfrid Laurier in Laurier's first election as party leader. In the June following the election, Macdonald dies in office. 118[4] 90 7 215
8th 1896 Laurier's Liberals win a majority government, defeating the Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Charles Tupper, despite losing the popular vote. 117 86[2] 10 213
9th 1900 Prime Minister Laurier's Liberals win re-election with a second majority, defeating former prime minister Tupper's Conservatives. Tupper loses his own seat of Cape Breton. 128 79[2] 6 213
10th 1904 Prime Minister Laurier's Liberals win re-election with a third majority, defeating Robert Borden's Conservatives. 137 75[2] 2 214
11th 1908 Prime Minister Laurier's Liberals defeat Borden's Conservatives to win their fourth consecutive majority mandate. 133 85[2] 3 221
12th 1911 Borden's Conservatives defeat Prime Minister Laurier's Liberals and win a majority mandate. 132[2] 85 4 221
13th 1917 Prime Minister Borden leads the Unionist Party, a pro-conscription coalition of Conservatives and former Liberals, to a majority victory. Both former Conservatives and former Liberals are appointed to the cabinet. The coalition defeats former prime minister Laurier's anti-conscription Liberals in the bitterest campaign in Canadian history. 153 82 0 235
14th 1921 William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberals win a minority government, defeating Prime Minister Arthur Meighen's Conservatives. The Conservatives are reduced to third place in the House; Meighen loses his own seat of Portage la Prairie. After Thomas Crerar and his Progressive Party decline the title of Official Opposition, Meighen becomes opposition leader. 118 49 58 3[5] 7 235
15th 1925 Prime Minister Mackenzie King's Liberals hold power with a minority with the help of Robert Forke's Progressives, despite former prime minister Meighen's Conservatives winning more seats, including that for King's own riding of York North. Labour Party leader and future CCF leader J. S. Woodsworth bargains his votes in the House to the Liberals in exchange for a promise to enact an old-age pension plan. The Progressives soon withdraw support from the scandal-plagued Liberals but also refuse to support the Conservatives. Governor General Lord Byng controversially appoints Meighen as Prime Minister in the King–Byng Affair, but the Conservatives soon fall in a non-confidence vote. 100 115 22 2[6] 6 245
16th 1926 Mackenzie King's Liberals defeat former prime minister Meighen's Conservatives, winning a minority supported by the eight Liberal-Progressives under Forke. Meighen loses his Portage la Prairie seat again. United Farmers parties take 12 seats and Labour four, giving Canada a rare Parliament with six parties in the House each with four or more seats. 116 91 11 12[5] 8 7 245
17th 1930 R. B. Bennett's Conservatives win a majority, defeating the Liberals under Prime Minister Mackenzie King. 134 90 9[6] 3 2 7 245
18th 1935 Former prime minister Mackenzie King's Liberals defeat Prime Minister Bennett's Conservatives with a majority. Two new parties based in the West field candidates for the first time: the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), under Woodsworth, wins seven seats on a platform of social reform, while the new Social Credit Party, led in Parliament by John Blackmore (its most recognized leader William Aberhart is serving as Premier of Alberta), wins 17 seats with its platform of monetary reform. The Progressive Party and the United Farmers of Alberta pass into the history books. 173 39 17 7 4 5 245
19th 1940 Prime Minister Mackenzie King's Liberals are re-elected with a majority, defeating Robert Manion's National Government party, a failed attempt to recreate Robert Borden's World War I-era Unionists. Manion, previously the MP for London, runs without success at Fort William. 179 39[7] 10[8] 8 3 6 245
20th 1945 Prime Minister Mackenzie King's Liberals are re-elected with a minority, defeating the newly renamed Progressive Conservatives, led by John Bracken. Despite his party's nationwide victory, King loses his Prince Albert riding. Foreshadowing the Bloc Québécois, the Bloc populaire canadien wins two seats in Quebec on a platform of opposition to conscription and Quebec nationalism; future Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and future mayor of Montreal Jean Drapeau are young party members. 118 66 28 13 20 245
21st 1949 New Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent leads the Liberals to victory with a majority, defeating George Drew's Progressive Conservatives. 191[9] 41 13 10 1 6 262
22nd 1953 Prime Minister St-Laurent's Liberals win re-election with a majority, defeating Drew's Progressive Conservatives. 169[9] 51 23 15 1 6 265
23rd 1957 John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives defeat Prime Minister St-Laurent's Liberals with an upset minority victory despite losing the popular vote. 112 105[9] 25 19 4 265
24th 1958 Prime Minister Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives are re-elected and win the largest majority to date in Canadian history, defeating the Liberals and their new leader, Lester Pearson. Social Credit loses all its seats (including leader S. E. Low's Peace River) and the CCF loses most of its own (including leader M. J. Coldwell's Rosetown—Biggar). 208 49[9] 8 265
25th 1962 Prime Minister Diefenbaker leads the Progressive Conservatives to a minority government, with a margin of victory over Pearson's Liberals by only one quarter of a percentage point in the popular vote. In its first election, under the leadership of "father of Canadian medicare" Tommy Douglas, the New Democratic Party, which evolved from the CCF, wins 19 seats but fails to achieve a hoped-for breakthrough; Douglas does not win his Regina City riding, for example. Robert Thompson makes his debut as leader of Social Credit, which makes only a modest recovery in the West (where the PCs had displaced it) but unprecedented gains in Quebec. Thompson wins his riding of Red Deer. 116 99[9] 30 19 1 265
26th 1963 Pearson's Liberals win a minority mandate, defeating Prime Minister Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives. 128[9] 95 24 17 1 265
27th 1965 Prime Minister Pearson's Liberals win re-election with a second minority, defeating former prime minister Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives. Social Credit split in 1963, with French-speaking, mostly Quebec-based supporters under Réal Caouette forming the Ralliement créditiste, while English-speaking Western supporters under Thompson remain under the "classic" banner. Most social credit movement supporters in Parliament serve with the Ralliement créditiste. Douglas' NDP moves into third place in the number of House seats. 131 97 21 14[10] 2 265
28th 1968 New Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau leads the Liberals to a majority victory, defeating the Progressive Conservatives under Robert Stanfield. 155[9] 72 22 14[11] 1 264
29th 1972 Prime Minister P. Trudeau's Liberals are re-elected, but with a minority, winning only two more seats than Stanfield's Progressive Conservatives despite winning the popular vote by more than three percentage points nationwide. The NDP pick up several seats under new leader David Lewis. Social Credit, now reunited under Caouette's leadership, maintains its support in Quebec. 109 107 31 15 2 264
30th 1974 Prime Minister P. Trudeau's Liberals defeat Stanfield's Progressive Conservatives with a second majority. The Liberals gain seats at the expense of the other three parties to return MPs, including Lewis' York South. Social Credit wins only eleven seats, one too few to qualify for official party status under the House rules, but the government makes an exception in this case. 141 95 16 11 1 264
31st 1979 Joe Clark's Progressive Conservatives defeat the Liberals, led by Prime Minister P. Trudeau, and win a minority government, despite winning a significantly smaller share of the vote than the Liberals. The PCs win the popular vote in seven provinces, but the Liberals capture an enormous lead in Quebec. Ed Broadbent makes his debut as leader of the NDP, which wins 10 more seats than in 1974 in a Parliament enlarged by 18 seats. Fabien Roy makes his debut as leader of Social Credit, whose support continues to slide. 136 114 26 6 0 282
32nd 1980 Former prime minister P. Trudeau's Liberals defeat the Progressive Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Clark. For the first time since 1958, Social Credit fails to elect any MPs, and so fades into history after an almost unbroken 45-year run of federal representation, leaving Canada with a three-party system. 147 103 32 0 282
33rd 1984 Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives defeat the Liberals, led by new Prime Minister John Turner (who became party leader while out of Parliament and returns to the House at Vancouver Quadra in this election) and win the most seats in Canadian history. By total seats, this election is both the PCs' best showing and the Liberals' second worst showing ever. 211 40 30 1 282
34th 1988 Prime Minister Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives win a second majority, diminished from 1984 due to contending with a much stronger performance from the Liberals under former prime minister Turner and a strong third-party showing from Broadbent's New Democrats, who score that party's third best result ever. This is the most recent federal general election to date where three parties returned all the Members of Parliament. Led by Preston Manning, the right-wing, Western-based Reform Party contests its first election. Many Reform supporters are erstwhile Progressive Conservative voters dissatisfied with a perceived failure of the Mulroney government to pursue fiscal or social conservatism. Reform wins no seats in the general election. 169 83 43 0 295
35th 1993 Jean Chrétien's Liberals win a majority, soundly defeating the Progressive Conservatives, led by new Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who are left in fifth place with just two seats, their worst ever showing. Despite personal popularity, Campbell loses her own seat of Vancouver Centre. The Bloc Québécois, founded in 1990 and led by ex-Mulroney cabinet minister Lucien Bouchard, becomes the official opposition. Manning wins his seat of Calgary Southwest and Reform becomes the third party. Audrey McLaughlin's New Democrats also post their worst ever results with just nine seats. The election marks the end of the predominantly three-party Liberal–Progressive Conservative–NDP system. 177 54 52 9 2 1 295
36th 1997 Prime Minister Chrétien's Liberals are re-elected with a second, albeit much slimmer, majority. Manning's Reform Party becomes the official opposition. Bloc Québécois falls to third place under new leader Gilles Duceppe. Led by Alexa McDonough, the NDP win 21 seats, 12 more than in 1993, including making an historic breakthrough in Atlantic Canada; McDonough wins her Halifax riding. Led by Jean Charest, the Progressive Conservatives win nearly as many votes as Reform, but only one-third the seats. The composition of the House is nicknamed "pizza pie Parliament." 155 60 44 21 20 1 301
37th 2000 Prime Minister Chrétien's Liberals are re-elected with a third majority, defeating Stockwell Day's Canadian Alliance, the unsuccessful attempt to unite the Reform Party and Progressive Conservatives. Both the Liberals and Alliance gain seats at the expense of the Bloc under Duceppe, NDP under McDonough, and PCs under former prime minister Joe Clark. The Progressive Conservatives barely keep official party status in the House with the minimum 12 seats, while the NDP wins only one more. 172 66 38 13 12 0 301
38th 2004 New Prime Minister Paul Martin leads the Liberals to win re-election with a minority mandate. They defeat the new Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, previously the leader of the Canadian Alliance, who merged that party with the Progressive Conservatives. Due to the Liberal sponsorship scandal, Duceppe's Bloc Québécois experiences a revival, tying its record high number of seats from 1993. Jack Layton's NDP comes one seat short of being able to guarantee the survival of Martin's government; Layton wins his seat of Toronto—Danforth. 135 99 54 19 1 308
39th 2006 Harper's Conservatives win a minority government, defeating Prime Minister Martin's Liberals. Duceppe's BQ keeps most of its seats and Layton's NDP improves its fourth-place position. 124 103 51 29 1 308
40th 2008 Prime Minister Harper's Conservatives win a second minority government, defeating Stéphane Dion's Liberals by larger margins than in 2006. BQ support is steady under Duceppe and NDP picks up several Liberal seats under Layton. Under new leader Elizabeth May, the Green Party continues its growth, winning 6.78% of the national vote on its environmentally conscious platform, but again fails to win any seats. 143 77 49 37 2 308
41st 2011 Prime Minister Harper's Conservatives win a majority of seats. For the first time the NDP, led by Layton, becomes the Official Opposition, taking advantage of the collapses of the BQ in Quebec and Liberals in Ontario; in particular, the NDP wins 59 seats in Quebec, never before having held more than one. In the August following the election, Layton dies in office. The leaders of both defeated parties, respectively, Gilles Duceppe and Michael Ignatieff lose their seats (Duceppe in Laurier—Sainte-Marie, Ignatieff in Etobicoke—Lakeshore) and resign. The Green Party campaign focusses on and wins its first seat (Elizabeth May runs and wins in Saanich—Gulf Islands), letting overall support collapse to year 2000 levels. 166 103 34 4 1 308
42nd 2015 Justin Trudeau's Liberals come back from third place in polls to win a majority of seats. The Conservatives become the official opposition. Former Prime Minister Harper resigns as Conservative leader. Quebec drops its overwhelming support for the NDP following the 2011 election and is largely divided, with the Liberals seizing most of the available seats. This split in Quebec reduces the NDP under Tom Mulcair to its historical third-party standing, while the Bloc under Gilles Duceppe regains some of the ridings it lost in 2011, despite Duceppe again failing to win his riding. Green Party leader Elizabeth May retains her seat for the second time. 184 99 44 10 1 338
43rd 2019 Prime Minister J. Trudeau's Liberals win a minority government. Conservatives win the popular vote and gain seats under Andrew Scheer, though he resigns his leadership in the December after the election due in part to a spending scandal. The Bloc Québécois under Yves-François Blanchet also gain seats; Blanchet wins his seat of Beloeil—Chambly, for example. The NDP loses seats under leader Jagmeet Singh, who holds his seat of Burnaby South. The Green Party retains leader Elizabeth May's seat for the third time; the seat of their second MP, Paul Manly, in Nanaimo—Ladysmith; and gain a seat in Fredericton. This is the first election for the People's Party of Canada, which Maxime Bernier founded in 2018 after having served as a Conservative MP since 2006. Leading the new party, Bernier loses his seat of Beauce and no other PPC candidates win seats. 157 121 32 24 4 338
44th 2021 Prime Minister J. Trudeau's Liberals win a second minority and a third consecutive national mandate. This was an early election, called by Trudeau in hopes of regaining his majority. Instead, he forms a second consecutive minority government. Conservatives, led by Erin O'Toole, win the popular vote but do not gain seats. Blanchet's Bloc Québécois equals its seat count from 2019. Jagmeet Singh retains his seat for the second time, and the NDP earns a net gain of one seat. Green Party leader Annamie Paul places fourth in her attempt to win a seat in Toronto Centre, as her party loses Nanaimo—Ladysmith despite candidate Mike Morrice winning the riding of Kitchener Centre to offset their loss of Fredericton when Jenica Atwin joined the Liberals earlier in the year. In its second national election, Bernier's PPC roughly triples its vote share and vote count relative to 2019 but again fails to win seats. 160 119 32 25 2 338


  1. ^ In the 1921 election, the Conservatives ran under the name National Liberal and Conservative Party, and in 1940 under the name National Government. In both cases the Conservatives lost the election and the new name was soon abandoned.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Includes results for the Liberal-Conservative Party.
  3. ^ Includes results for the Liberal-Conservative Party and one Conservative Labour candidate.
  4. ^ a b c Includes results for the Liberal-Conservative and Nationalist Conservative parties.
  5. ^ a b Combined total for the United Farmers of Alberta and United Farmers of Ontario.
  6. ^ a b Seats won by the United Farmers of Alberta.
  7. ^ Includes results for the National Government party.
  8. ^ Includes results for the New Democracy party.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Includes one seat won by a Liberal-Labour candidate in Kenora—Rainy River who sat in the House as a Liberal.
  10. ^ Includes 10 seats won by the Ralliement créditiste party.
  11. ^ All 14 seats were won by the Ralliement créditiste party.

Further reading[edit]

  • Argyle, Ray (2004). Turning Points: The Campaigns That Changed Canada 2004 and Before. Toronto: White Knight Publications. ISBN 978-0-9734186-6-8. – covers federal elections of 1878, 1896, 1911, 1917, 1926, 1945, 1957, 1968, 1988, and 2004
  • MacIvor, Heather, ed. (2010). Election. Toronto: Emond Montgomery Publications. ISBN 978-1-55239-321-5.

Graphs of results[edit]

Bar graph of seats from 1867 to 2021[edit]

Seat distribution in the House of Commons from 1867 to 2021
  Independent & others

Historical parties (represented in the House up to the 2000 elections)

Line graph of votes[edit]

See also[edit]