Canada election: Trudeau's Liberals win but lose majority


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Media caption“Canadians voted in favour of a progressive agenda” – Justin Trudeau’s victory speech

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party has retained power in a narrow Canadian election win but he will now be prime minister of a minority government.

The Liberals are projected to win 157 seats, 13 short of a majority, and will find it harder to pass legislation in Mr Trudeau’s second term.

The opposition Conservatives are expected to win the popular vote but have not translated that into seats.

They are projected to take 121, up from the 95 they held before.

Although Monday night’s results saw a sharp decline in seats for the country’s left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), its leader, Jagmeet Singh, could become the kingmaker.

The NDP is projected to take 24 seats in the 338-seat parliament.

Quebec’s separatist party, the Bloc Quebecois, which competes only in that province, fared much better. It is expected to take 32 seats, compared to the 10 it won in 2015.

Turnout is currently listed at 65%.

The federal election was seen as a referendum on Mr Trudeau, who had a bumpy first term, tainted by scandal.

Mr Trudeau told cheering supporters in Montreal that voters had “rejected division and negativity… and they rejected cuts and austerity and voted in favour of a progressive agenda and strong action on climate change”.

He said: “Thank you for having faith in us to move our country in the right direction.”

And to those who did not back him, he promised his party would govern for everyone.

His weakened grip on power is being seen as a rebuke of his record but the result is bitterly disappointing for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Why has Trudeau’s popularity fallen?

Mr Trudeau swept into power in 2015 promising “real change” and a slew of progressive pledges.

But after four years in power, Mr Trudeau faced criticism for his ability to follow through.

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Media captionFour years of Justin Trudeau in two minutes

His environmental record, for example, has been undercut by his support for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project.

And Mr Trudeau’s vow to institute federal electoral reform was quickly abandoned, angering some left-leaning voters excited by the prospect of seeing an alternative voting system

Still, according to an independent assessment by two dozen Canadian academics, Mr Trudeau has kept – fully or partially – 92% of these promises, the most by any Canadian government in 35 years.

An ethics scandal early this year, known as the SNC-Lavalin affair, took a major toll on his support.

Last month an ethics watchdog found the prime minister had violated federal conflict of interest rules by improperly trying to influence a former minister in relation to a criminal trial facing major Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

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Supporters of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer react to the latest results

Mr Trudeau’s election odds then seemed at risk when images of the prime minister wearing blackface make-up in three separate instances were widely circulated.

The images were seen as a major hit to Mr Trudeau’s cultivated political image, characterised by compassion and inclusion.

What have the leaders said?

In his speech, Mr Trudeau also addressed Quebec and the provinces in western Canada, where his party had not fared well, saying: “I’ve heard your frustration.”

Mr Scheer said he was “incredibly proud” of the larger Conservative team going to Ottawa.

He said the country was “further divided” and that his party had put Mr Trudeau “on notice, his leadership is damaged and his government will end soon”.

The Conservatives are projected to take 34.4% of the popular vote, compared to the Liberals’ 33%. However, the first-past-the-post system – awarding victory to the candidate with most votes in any given constituency – means that has not translated to seats won.

Speaking from his home district in Burnaby, British Columbia, Mr Singh acknowledged some disappointing results but focused on the future, promising to make “Canadians’ life… better”.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May said the election had been a success. It is expected to take three seats, compared to one in 2015.

US President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to Mr Trudeau.

What next for Canada?

Minority governments are not uncommon in Canada – there have been three in the past 15 years.

A coalition government, however, is rare. It was last attempted in 2008 by the Liberals and NDP, but was disbanded when then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative, prorogued parliament.

Analysts believe the obvious link would again be between the Liberals and the NDP. They also believe the Bloc Quebecois – which has softened its stance on demands for independence – will neither enter a coalition nor force another election.

Without any agreed coalition, Mr Trudeau would clearly need to compromise to get policies through.

Mr Scheer will have to assess his position. He pitched himself to Canadians as the candidate speaking up for issues which directly affect voters’ lives and wallets.

But instead he faced scrutiny over where the Conservative Party stood on gay marriage and abortion.



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