NEWS Trudeau is Canada’s new PM
Canadians have elected a new prime minister. He is 43-year old Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and the eldest son of Pierre Trudeau who was twice prime minister, first in 1968 and later in 1980. Trudeau’s Liberal’s beat the Stephen Harper led Conservative Party in a keenly contested election in which he was only expected to lead by a slim majority. Trudeau proved bookmakers wrong by winning 184 seats in parliament eight clear points above the requirement giving his party a clear majority.
Trudeau’s majority lead in parliament has closed a tenyear conservative chapter of Canadian history one which some say has been characterized by pomposity and arrogance on the part of the outgoing prime minister. Harper responded to the drubbing of his party by offering to stand down as its leader but remains a member of parliament having won his seat at the elections. His party is now left to pick the pieces. Canadians delivered a clear message to Harper by turning out en-masse for Monday’s polls hitting 68%, a clear seven points over that of 2011 when Harper got the last mandate. Two of Harper’s ministers were beaten in Monday’s elections.
Five majority parties contested the polls. The 78 days campaign season is the longest in Canada’s electoral history, it is also perhaps one of the most contentious one in which ethnicity and religion played prominent roles. Canada is basically an immigrant Christian nation, but with a rising Muslim minority who are very vocal and active in most ridings.
Parties which contested the election aside from Harper’s conservatives and Trudeau’s Liberals, include the NDP led by bearded Tom Mulcair; the Party Quebecois with its strongest roots in the Frenchspeaking Quebec and the environmental Green Party.
Although the Conservatives lost the prime minister’s position, they remain the strongest opposition with 99 seats. They are followed by the NDP, with 44 seats. The Party Quebecois is fourth in line with 10 seats while the Greens are the minority of the minorities with only one seat, won by its leader Elizabeth May. May was the only female candidate who jostled for the PM position. She will however not be a lone ranger in parliament as a total of 88 women from all parties were elected into the legislature at Monday’s elections.
In his first reaction after learning that he is prime minister designate, Trudeau promised to rally all Canadians. He said his party campaigned vigorously and thanked all those who helped bring the victory. “We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work: we beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together.” He praised fellow contestants especially Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the tenacity of their campaigns and hailed Mulcair for running a good race.
Trudeau returns to 24 Sussex Drive, the prime minister’s residence where he was raised along with his siblings. He returns with three of his own children and Sophie Gregoire his wife. He praised their sacrifice and promised to find the time to play the role of father and husband. He is expected to share fond memories of his childhood with his family, once he has moved in.
As prime minister designate, Trudeau is expected to hit the ground running with a solid cabinet and to fulfill most of his electoral promises. His campaign slogan – Real Change Now is likely to resonate with most Nigerians in view of recent events. He has raised the hope of majority of Canadians with his electoral promises. He had promised to tax the wealthy to help the poor; to balance the budget for the next three years and direct money to public services that needs it.
For a nation of immigrants, Trudeau has promised to make all Canadians included and accepted a reaction to Harper’s attempt to divide Canadians. He has promised to bring in 10,000 Syrians and to spend $100 million to resettle them. He has also promised to modernize the country’s armed forces. Although Canada has hardly fought a war since its independence from Britain, it constantly supports international peace keeping and peace enforcement operations all over the world. Trudeau’s critics say he would have an uphill task fulfilling most of his promises without raising taxes or running budget deficit.
Congratulatory messages have been pouring in for the prime minister designate. Earliest goodwill messages came from India, China and Mexico. But Trudeau would be waiting for that call from the leader of Canada’s nextdoor neighbour, America and already knows what he plans to say to Barack Obama. Relations between America and Canada are considered good, but sometimes frosty as a result of economic friction.
The Canadian dollar maintained its stability after results were announced on Tuesday. It has lost a few points to the dollar in the past ten months. The Canadian economy has seen better days. Although the country retained its stability in the aftermath of the collapse of the housing market in America and after the 2008 global recession, companies have closed down and laid off workers while those still in employment decry high cost of living and high taxes.
Trudeau is expected to inject some new faces into his cabinet, but he would also splash in some experienced hands.
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his wife Sophie Gregoire, celebrate his victory with supporters. ().