THE MORE YOU KNOW...
RadioTMI - September 12, 2015
The second non-partisan PSA on the 2015 Canadian Federal election
SCENARIO: Tom Mulcair's NDP get the most seats in this election but not a majority in the house, and he and Justin Trudeau are unable or unwilling to form a coalition (as is likely to be the case).
RESULT: Under Parliamentary precedent, without a clear mandate or majority to any one party, the option to govern remains with the incumbent as a first right of refusal.
While the most common response by Mr Harper on coming in second would be to concede he is not constitutionally or conventionally required to do so. If Stephen Harper believes he is still able to govern, even with a second place minority, then the Governor General would be likely to permit him the option to do so.
How long Mr. Harper could maintain such a government depends largely on whether he is able to reach consensus on a Bill by Bill basis and avoid a Motion of Non-Confidence, but it's not without precedent and in his first minority government he managed to do it rather skillfully for more than two years.
Should that minority government fail, the Govenor General would then have the option of turning to the Opposition and offering them the option to form Government, OR if sufficient time since the last election had passed and there was evidence a change in support had occurred (anything over 7 months) then the Governor General would most likely call another election.
It's something worth knowing because a lot of people may be surprised by what happens on October 20th, and that'll mostly come from not knowing enough about how a multi-party Parliamentary Democracy works.