- 22 октября, 05:21
- POLITICO. Top Stories
MONTREAL — Justin Trudeau will serve another term as Canada’s prime minister after Liberals won a plurality of seats in Parliament. But the incumbent emerged from Monday's election weakened as his party lost seats and Trudeau will lead a minority government.
The quick declaration of Trudeau’s victory came as a surprise after he was deadlocked in the polls with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer during the six-week campaign. Still, with a minority government, Trudeau will need to forge alliances with other parties to advance his priorities.
The crowd had barely begun gathering at Liberal headquarters in Montreal when the unexpectedly early victory call arrived. Dozens of people in a mostly empty convention hall began chanting, “Four more years.”
In a speech that unusually took place while both Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh were also speaking to supporters, Trudeau defiantly voiced the messages he had taken across the country, while also extending an olive branch to Western provinces that roundly rejected him.
“Know that you are an essential part of this country,” Trudeau said, referencing Alberta and Saskatchewan. “Let us all work hard to bring our great country together.”
To win, Trudeau survived numerous controversies, including revelations by Time Magazine in September that he wore blackface to a costume party in 2001 while he taught at a private school. That prompted the prime minister to admit to another instance, while a third was quickly publicized. The SNC-Lavalin scandal has also dogged Trudeau this year, particularly after the country’s ethics commissioner determined his office tried to shield the engineering company from criminal prosecution.
Trudeau apologized for donning black- and brownface, but in the SNC-Lavalin case he said he was defending Canadian jobs.
His supporters' exuberance at the surprisingly clear mandate glossed over the reality that the Liberals will have a harder time governing with a parliamentary minority — and minority governments tend to last only about two years, not four.
During the campaign, Trudeau told voters they had a choice between a progressive agenda on climate change and social services or a Scheer-led government that would end the carbon tax while having no targets for emission reductions. But Trudeau risked losing support from Canadians demanding climate action after approving the purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
The Parliament should have easily enough votes to ratify President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as Liberals and Conservatives have both said they’ll vote for it and hold an overwhelming majority of seats.
The prime minister has said his first action will be tax cuts for the middle class, or those earning less than $147,000 a year, by raising levels of tax-free income.
One potential wildcard is whether the other opposition parties will pull Trudeau aggressively to the left in exchange for their support on bills. Those other opposition parties, the New Democratic Party and Bloc Québécois, have criticized the USMCA and also support aggressive action on climate change.
In Regina, Sask., where Scheer and his supporters gathered, the already-subdued election night event went silent as the CBC News broadcast called a Liberal-led government. Party organizers quickly changed the channel to another news network, but soon others began calling the election for the Liberals.
Scheer used his concession speech to position Conservatives as the party in waiting to lead Canada once Trudeau’s Liberals stumble. "Tonight, Conservatives have put Justin Trudeau on notice," he said in Regina. "And Mr. Trudeau, when your government falls, Conservatives will be ready and we will win.”
The International Trade Centre auditorium, filled with hundreds of Conservative supporters, would erupt in applause and cheers whenever the results for Scheer’s riding of Regina-Qu’Appelle crossed the projection screen showing multiple newscasts. Only when results were aired for Regina-Wascana, where Conservative candidate Michael Kram unseated longtime Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, would the crowd react with more exuberance. They also cheered when People’s Party of Canada Leader — and former Conservative — Maxime Bernier was declared unseated by the Conservative candidate in the Quebec riding of Beauce.
Bernier, a former foreign minister who hoped to lead a populist movement, lost his own seat in an embarrassing and emphatic setback for Canada's would-be Donald Trump.
Lauren Gardner contributed to this report from Regina, Sask.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine