Justin Trudeau wins Canada election but Liberal Party may struggle for outright majority, projections say

Trudeau’s Liberal Party seen as leading in 139 of 338 seats in Canada’s House of Commons

Arpan Rai
Tuesday 21 September 2021 13:50
Trudeau casts his ballot

Justin Trudeau will remain as Canada’s prime minister after his Liberal Party won the most seats in Monday’s election, early media projections say, but it remains to be seen whether the party will claim an outright majority.

Canadian media projections had the Liberals leading in 139 of 338 seats in Canada’s House of Commons, in line with predictions from most opinion polls, reported Reuters.

The Trudeau-led party had called the snap election off the back of popular support for the government’s response to the pandemic, hoping to win an outright majority, but as opinion polls tightened closer to election day the Liberals ultimately campaigned to keep the Conservatives out.

Mr Trudeau spoke early on Tuesday morning, as it was increasingly clear the Liberals would be returning to power but without a majority, thanking voters for their support.

In a nearly 10-minute-long speech, Mr Trudeau said: “Thank you, all. You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic and to the brighter days ahead. My friends, that is exactly what we are ready to do.”

Mr Trudeau, who was accompanied by his wife and children for the speech, said Canadians had opted for a “progressive” route out of the Covid crisis.

“There are still votes to be counted but what we have seen tonight is that millions of Canadians have chosen a progressive plan. Some have talked about division but that is not what I see. That’s not what I have seen these past weeks across the country.”

He added: “I see Canadians standing together in determination to end this pandemic, together for real climate action, for $10-a-day child care, for homes that are in reach for middle class families, for our shared journey on the path of reconciliation.”

“You’ve elected parliamentarians to deliver all this and our team, our government is ready,” he told reporters.

While the Conservatives had positioned themselves as being against lockdowns and vaccine mandates, Mr Trudeau had called on Canadians to vote in a government that “follows science”.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole described vaccination as a personal health decision. Mr O’Toole also did not press for vaccination among the party’s candidates.

Since he first came to power in 2015, Mr Trudeau has embraced immigration even as countries like the US closed their doors to immigrants. Other policy landmarks include legalising cannabis, bringing in a carbon tax to fight climate change, and fighting to preserve a free trade deal with the US and Mexico despite threats from former US president Donald Trump to call off the agreement.

The call to stage the elections two years early was made despite Mr Trudeau leading a stable minority administration – a decision criticised by the opposition as exposing the prime minister’s personal ambition.

Analysts said that even without a majority, the Liberals will be delighted with what early projections are showing.

“I think [the Liberals] are feeling vindicated … The prime minister has pulled together one of the most impressive runs of any Liberal prime minister in power – three elections in a row in an amazing achievement,” said John Duffy, former adviser to federal and provincial Liberals.

Trudeau has proved his political resilience with his re-election, Mr Duffy said, explaining that it had been a difficult time for the party since late August, resulting in mounting pressure for the incumbent.

Conservative analysts questioned why the early elections were held in the first place, with little expected to change in the Canadian parliament.

“I think it was to be expected. In the last couple of weeks, public opinion polls certainly turned in this direction,” said Will Steward, national lead of Hill+Knowlton strategies and a conservative commentator.

“Justin Trudeau called his campaign to get a majority. I don’t think he’s going to get there, which then takes us right back to where we were sort of six weeks ago,” Mr Steward said.

Trudeau’s return to power also did not send ripples across the Canadian markets because the elections were not expected to take a dramatic turn and throw out the current government. The Canadian dollar surged but not strongly, market spectators said.

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