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Thread: Justin Trudeau to remain Canada's prime minister; Liberal Party appears to fall short

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    Default Justin Trudeau to remain Canada's prime minister; Liberal Party appears to fall short

    Canada’s Justin Trudeau Headed for Victory in National Vote

    TV networks project another minority government as incumbent Liberal Party’s bid for stronger mandate falls short

    By Paul Vieira

    Sept. 21, 2021


    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Sunday in Montreal.
    Photo: carlos osorio/Reuters


    OTTAWA—Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was headed toward a third straight electoral victory Tuesday morning, although his bet that a snap vote would help him secure a majority government failed to materialize.

    Both Canada’s CTV Network and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. projected the incumbent Liberal Party was set to win enough seats in parliament to form a minority government.

    Preliminary results indicate the results from Monday’s election were a mirror image of what the previous election, in 2019, produced. The Liberals were leading in 156 electoral districts, short of the 170 needed for a majority in parliament. The Conservative Party, led by Erin O’Toole, was running second with 122 seats. The results are based on over 90% of polls reporting and officials continue to tally votes—including about a million mail-in ballots. When the election was called, the Liberals held 155 seats and the Tories had 119.

    While the Liberals have secured re-election, a minority result will be viewed as a setback. This will force Mr. Trudeau to rely on another party—perhaps the left-leaning New Democratic Party—to help implement a progressive agenda with a focus on expanded child care, affordable housing and climate change.

    In Montreal, Mr. Trudeau said he was ready to fulfill his party’s promises and help end the Covid-19 pandemic’s hardship on households.

    “What we’ve seen tonight is that millions of Canadians have chosen a progressive plan,” he said. “The moment we face demands real important change, and you have given this parliament, this government real direction.”

    Mr. Trudeau, 49 years old, called snap parliamentary elections halfway through his four-year term in mid-August, when Canada’s Liberal Party was riding high in the polls following Mr. Trudeau’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr. Trudeau invoked his powers to dissolve Parliament and call a vote, gambling his party he could win a legislative majority.

    Since the last election in October 2019, Mr. Trudeau has led a minority government, requiring support from other parties to get legislation passed. A majority in Monday’s election would have allowed Mr. Trudeau to push through his agenda without having to strike deals with opposition parties. It would also have given his party control over parliamentary committees, whose investigations into financial ties between the prime minister’s family and a youth charity, as well as alleged sexual misconduct among military leadership, have proved politically embarrassing.

    Mr. Trudeau framed the election as a pivotal moment in the country’s history. “We have big decisions to make based on what we learned from this pandemic,” he said before election day.

    Yet Mr. Trudeau’s early-election gamble didn’t work as planned. His main political rivals and some voters blasted the prime minister for putting his own political interests ahead of the public, which remains preoccupied with Covid-19. Pollsters said Mr. Trudeau was unable to shake off voter anger over the decision to trigger a nationwide vote, called during the early stages of a fourth wave in Covid-19 cases.

    A poll issued last week from Ipsos Global Public Affairs indicated over two-thirds of respondents said this was the wrong time to have an election. Anger over the election call “is an anvil that Trudeau has had strapped to his waist as he tried to swim across this election moat,” said Darrell Bricker, Ipsos chief executive.

    Julia Maurik, a resident in Toronto’s west end, said Monday the election didn’t need to be called, and believed the exercise was a waste of taxpayers’ money. “Everybody’s walking around with masks on, voting in a pandemic,” she said, outside of a church where voting took place. “I’m not sure the country needs this.”

    She said she believes Mr. Trudeau’s early-election call was likely motivated by polling numbers, as opposed to his argument that it was time to give voters a say on what post-pandemic Canada should look like. “He’s putting a spin on a decision that was opportunistic,” she said.

    Mr. Trudeau acknowledged in his victory speech some of the backlash from his early election call.

    “I hear you when you say that you just want to get back to the things you love, not worry about this pandemic or about an election, that you just want to know that your members of parliament of all stripes will have your back through this crisis and beyond,” he said.

    Through the campaign, Mr. Trudeau declined to answer reporters’ questions about his future in the event he didn’t win a majority. His speech indicated he has no plans to step aside despite falling short of a majority.

    “I think retiring from politics would be the farthest thing in his mind. He just got a fresh mandate,” Gerald Butts, a longtime friend of Mr. Trudeau’s and his former senior aide, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

    Donald Trump lost the 2020 U.S. presidential election in part because of his administration’s handling of the pandemic. Though Mr. Trudeau received high marks among Canadians for managing the public-health crisis, that seemingly hasn’t helped on the campaign trail.

    “Adequate pandemic management is no longer sufficient to win re-election in the post-Covid world,” said Daniel Béland, a political-science professor at Montreal’s McGill University.

    Mr. Béland pointed out that voters in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia ousted the incumbent Liberals in an election last month, even though the province’s Covid-19 strategy earned widespread praise.

    Other factors weighed on Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Béland and pollsters say. Chief among them, analysts say, is Mr. Trudeau’s personal popularity. It has taken a hit during his six years in office after a series of ethics scandals cast doubt about his judgment. And, they add, he is no longer the fresh face with the positive demeanor that helped carry the Liberals to power back in 2015.

    A spokesman for the Liberal Party said the election campaign has “seen a hugely positive response to Mr. Trudeau’s progressive plan to finish the fight against Covid-19.”

    Diane Gadient, an Ottawa resident, said she cast her vote to oust Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals and his ethical lapses were a main reason why. She said she is also upset by the aggressive spending Mr. Trudeau deployed during the pandemic to stabilize the economy and help affected workers. “They are giving away money left, right and center. The money doesn’t grow on trees.”

    Morrie Berglas, a tech-company employee in Ottawa, said he cast his vote for the Liberals. “I don’t think the Liberals have done that bad a job,” Mr. Berglas said. “There’s nothing stellar, but it could be a lot worse.”

    The Conservative Party’s relatively new leader, Mr. O’Toole, positioned himself as a moderate, political analysts say. Unlike in past campaigns, the Tory platform didn’t advocate for an immediate return to balanced budgets.

    Mr. O’Toole, a former military officer and cabinet minister, criticized Mr. Trudeau’s plans to force federal government employees to be fully vaccinated and to compel plane and train travelers to show proof of vaccination.

    Mr. O’Toole said that he would respect personal health choices and that he favors rapid testing and screening over mandates.

    In a speech to supporters, Mr. O’Toole said the Conservatives would learn from this campaign and be ready in case Mr. Trudeau tries to trigger another early election.

    “We will take stock of what worked and what didn’t and we will continue to put in the time to show more Canadians that they are welcome in the Conservative Party of Canada,” he said.

    Meanwhile, the leader of the New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, said Tuesday he was prepared to fight for Canada’s less fortunate and signaled the party’s support for Mr. Trudeau in parliament might be contingent on higher taxes for high-income earners.

    “We are going to keep on fighting to make sure that the super wealthy pay their fair share, that billionaires pay their fair share, so that burden doesn’t fall on you and your families,” Mr. Singh said.

    Peter Donolo, vice chairman of Hill+Knowlton Strategies in Canada and a senior aide for former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, said that Messrs. Trudeau and O’Toole both failed to address core questions that dogged their campaigns. Mr. Trudeau, he said, couldn't answer why he called the election “because the honest answer was he called it to win a majority, which is not an acceptable answer for people.”

    As for Mr. O’Toole, Mr. Donolo said the Tory leader struggled on Covid-19 and his opposition to vaccine mandates.

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    Default Re: Canada’s Justin Trudeau Headed for Victory in National Vote

    Justin Trudeau to remain Canada's prime minister; Liberal Party appears to fall short of majority

    Rob Gillies

    Associated Press

    September 21, 2021

    Canadians gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party a victory in Monday’s parliamentary elections, but his gamble to win a majority of seats appeared to have failed.

    The Liberals were on track to win the most seats of any party. The 49-year-old Trudeau channeled the star power of his father, the Liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, when he first won election in 2015 and now appeared to have led his party to the top finish in two elections since.

    The Liberals were leading in 148 ridings, the Conservatives in 103, the Quebec-based Bloc Québécois in 28 and the leftist New Democratic Party in 22.

    It didn’t appear Trudeau would win enough seats to avoid having to rely on help from other parties to pass legislation. Trudeau entered the election leading a stable minority government that wasn’t under threat of being toppled.

    The opposition was relentless in accusing Trudeau of calling an unnecessary early vote – two years before the deadline – for his own personal ambition.

    Trudeau bet Canadians didn’t want a Conservative government during a pandemic. Canada is now among the most fully vaccinated countries in the world and Trudeau’s government spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the economy amid lockdowns and he argued that the Conservatives’ approach, which has been skeptical of lockdowns and vaccine mandates, would be dangerous and says Canadians need a government that follows science.

    Conservative leader Erin O’Toole didn’t require his party’s candidates to be vaccinated and would not say how many were unvaccinated. O’Toole described vaccination as a personal health decision, but a growing number of vaccinated Canadians are increasingly upset with those who refuse to get vaccinated.

    Trudeau supports making vaccines mandatory for Canadians to travel by air or rail, something the Conservatives oppose. And Trudeau has pointed out that Alberta, run by a Conservative provincial government, is in crisis.

    Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, an ally of O’Toole, said the province might run out of beds and staff for intensive care units within days. Kenney apologized for the dire situation and is now reluctantly introducing a vaccine passport and imposing a mandatory work-from-home order two months after lifting nearly all restrictions.

    A Conservative win would have represented a rebuke of Trudeau against a politician with a fraction of his name recognition. O’Toole, 47, is a military veteran, former lawyer and a member of Parliament for nine years.

    O’Toole advertised himself a year ago as a “true-blue Conservative.” He became Conservative Party leader with a pledge to “take back Canada,” but immediately started working to push the party toward the political center.

    O’Toole’s strategy, which included disavowing positions held dear by his party’s base on issues such as climate change, guns and balanced budgets, was designed to appeal to a broader cross section of voters in a country that tends to be far more liberal than its southern neighbor.

    The son of a long-time politician has faced criticism he will say and do anything to get elected.

    Whether moderate Canadians believed O’Toole is the progressive conservative he claims to be and whether he alienated traditional Conservatives became central questions of the campaign.

    Adrian Archambault, a 53-year-old Vancouver resident, voted Liberal and said he didn’t mind the election was held during a pandemic. He noted provincial elections have also happened during the pandemic.

    “Everybody has been so preoccupied with COVID the last few years it wasn’t maybe a bad thing to sort of do a re-check,” he said.

    Trudeau’s legacy includes embracing immigration at a time when the U.S. and other countries closed their doors. He also legalized cannabis nationwide and brought in a carbon tax to fight climate change. And he preserved free trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico amid threats by former U.S. President Donald Trump to scrap the agreement.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama and ex-Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted support for Trudeau. There wasn’t a Trump endorsement of O’Toole. Conservative campaign co-chair Walied Soliman said there is no alignment whatsoever between O’Toole and Trumpism. Soliman said earlier in the day holding Trudeau to a minority government would be a win for O’Toole.

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