NEWS Trudeau is Canada’s new PM

Daily Trust - - NEWS - From Tunde Asaju, Canada

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.

Photo Chris Wattie/Reuters

Lib­eral Party leader Justin Trudeau, ac­com­pa­nied by his wife So­phie Gre­goire, cel­e­brate his vic­tory with sup­port­ers. ().

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