Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals came up top with a narrow lead in the general election on Monday, followed closely by Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives.
The Liberal Party won the 157 seats in the 338-seat Parliament, short of the 170 needed for a majority, while the Conservatives wound up with 121 seats, and the Bloc Québécois 32. The New Democratic Party (NDP) obtained 24, the Green Party 3 and one independent, with 99.67% of the polls reporting, according to Elections Canada.
A total of 17,890,264 Canadians (of 27,126,166 registered electors – 65.95 % – not including electors who registered on election day) turned out to vote at polling stations on Monday in six different time zones: Newfoundland Daylight Time (GMT-2:30), Atlantic Daylight Time (GMT-3), Central Daylight Time (GMT-5), Central Standard Time (GMT-6), Mountain Daylight Time (GMT-6), Pacific Daylight Time (GMT-7).
“Tonight Canadians rejected division and negativity. They rejected cuts and austerity. They elected a progressive agenda and strong action on climate change,” Trudeau said early Tuesday.
Quebec separatists were resurgent. The Bloc Quebecois, a Quebec separatist party, enjoyed a massive comeback after softening its demands for independence. The party, which has been revitalized under new leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, jumped to 32 seats from 10 seats in the predominantly French-speaking province.
“We have come far but we will go further,” Blanchet told supporters in the early hours of Tuesday.
Trudeau and the scandals
Although Trudeau won by a landslide in 2015, his fight to secure a second term was hobbled by several scandals. In recent months, old photos of the prime minister wearing blackface and brownface emerged, and he has come under fire for his handling of a corruption case involving a major Canadian construction company as well as for his decision to nationalize a controversial oil pipeline project.
Like his father before him, Justin Trudeau became a polarizing figure after winning power. But relatively speaking, he fared better than his father when Pierre Trudeau sought re-election in 1972. The elder Trudeau won by the slimmest of margins — just two seats — while his son fell only about a baker’s dozen seats short of an actual majority on Monday night. The “Trudeaumania” of 1968 and the “Sunny Ways” of 2015 did not translate into new majority mandates. Both Trudeaus faced decidedly less flamboyant Conservative opponents in Robert Stanfield and Andrew Scheer. Neither was able to win more seats than a Trudeau.
Smaller parties to be kingmakers
Although much of the focus was on the major candidates, the environment and health care also emerged as top issues.
Having failed to win a majority, Trudeau will have to rely on support from smaller parties such as the Green Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Jagmeet Singh — the first nonwhite leader of a federal party in Canada.
Singh said he had spoken with Trudeau and told him his party would be “working hard to deliver on making sure we deliver the priorities that Canadians have.”