The Provincial Final

On the federal side, the 1988 election has earned the title of Canada’s Biggest Federal election, collecting 64% of the vote against the 57/58 Diefenbaker wins in the final.

So the time has come to crown Canada’s Biggest Provincial Election. It has come down to the top 2 seeds – 1976 Quebec and 1944 Saskatchewan. Voting is now open until 10 pm on Wednesday night. Next week, the provincial and federal winners will go head-to-head for the overall title of Canada’s biggest election.

(2) 1944 Saskatchewan v.s. (1) 1976 Quebec

The Case for 1944: Tommy Douglas’ win was an absolute rout, blowing out the governing Liberals and establishing a 20 year CCF dynasty that would change Saskatchewan forever. The win was the first ever for a socialist party in North America, raising eyebrows across the continent.

The election’s impact on Canada as a whole cannot the under-estimated either. While the CCF’s success in Saskatchewan never materialized into a federal NDP win, three other provinces have since elected CCF/NDP governments and 1944 no doubt paved the way for that. Many of Douglas’ policies, most notably health care, would be later adopted by the federal Liberals and strong CCF performances like these two elections scared Mackenzie King to the left on many issues. For better or worse, much of Canada’s current welfare state can be traced back to 1944’s shocker on the Prairies.

The Case for 1976: It’s rare that an election stuns a province, never mind a country but 1976 did just that, drawing headlines around the world. Given the rise of the PQ, the corruption scandals surrounding Bourassa, and the polls that showed Levesque marching to a win, the result should not have been surprising, but it still was.

As for the consequences, we all know them. Bill 101 came into being, and the exodus of head offices out of Montreal began. Two referendums and what seemed like a dozen unity crises came and went. And yet, the country still stands. So while the 1976 Quebec election did not destroy Canada, it certainly changed it forever.

Which Election Was Bigger?
(1) 1976 Quebec (Rene Levesque and the PQ win)
(2) 1944 Saskatchewan (Tommy Douglas and the CCF win)
See Results

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Canada's Biggest Election

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at and online at the National Post.

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