China Daily (Hong Kong)

Trudeau ekes out narrow win in poll

Canada’s PM keeps his job but fails to break shackles of minority govt


OTTAWA — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have to settle for leading a second minority government after his Liberal Party fell short of winning a majority in parliament­ary elections.

Trudeau, 49, was reelected to a third term on Monday after calling a vote two years early, hoping for voter endorsemen­t of his freespendi­ng response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2019, he had been constraine­d by a minority government, an arrangemen­t that forced him to make deals with other parties to push through legislatio­n.

On Monday, Trudeau’s left-leaning party won 156 seats in the House of Commons, followed by the main opposition Conservati­ve Party with 121 seats. The Bloc Quebecois took 32 seats, with 27 for the New Democratic Party and two for the Green Party, according to media.

Conservati­ve leader Erin O’Toole conceded defeat as results trickled in late on Monday night.

Trudeau, speaking to supporters shortly after O’Toole’s concession, pledged to work with other parties for the good of all Canadians.

“You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic and to the brighter days ahead,” Trudeau told a small gathering of supporters in a hotel ballroom in Montreal.

The final seat tally may not look very different from the compositio­n of the House of Commons when it was dissolved last month. The Commons is the lower chamber of the Canadian parliament.

There are 338 seats in the House of Commons, where a party needs to win at least 170 seats to form a majority government. Before the election, the Liberals held 155 seats in the chamber, followed by the Conservati­ve Party with 119.

Campaign promises

After the election, Trudeau will have to negotiate his campaign promises — including C$10-a-day ($7.80) child care charge, billions in funding to aged-care homes and new climate-linked investment­s — with the left-leaning New Democrats; their votes will be needed to pass all legislatio­n.

“It seems to suggest exactly what people want, which is some degree of ambivalenc­e … They’re not ready to have one party or another really have all the reins,” said Gerald Baier, an associate political science professor at the University of British Columbia.

In the midst of a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in Canada, Trudeau called the early election on Aug 15, putting an end to his nearly two-year minority government.

Trudeau billed the snap election as a chance for Canadians to have their voices heard about who they want to lead the country out of the health crisis and into a new era of change.

Trudeau, in power since 2015, said he had a clear mandate to continue the path to recovery while conceding Canadians did not want to be thinking about politics or elections.

“You just want to know that your members of parliament of all stripes will have your back through this crisis and beyond,” he told supporters. “You have given this parliament and this government clear directions.”

However, political opponents argued his decision to call an unnecessar­y early vote was motivated by a desire for a majority government and that his sole focus should be on governing, not campaignin­g, while the pandemic spreads throughout the country.

“Trudeau lost his gamble to get a majority, so I would say this is a bitterswee­t victory for him,” said Daniel Beland, a political-science professor at McGill University in Montreal.

“Basically, we are back to square one, as the new minority parliament will look like the previous one. Trudeau and the Liberals saved their skin and will stay in power, but many Canadians who didn’t want this late-summer, pandemic election are probably not amused about the whole situation,” he said.

Around 800,000 mail-in ballots were expected to be counted on Tuesday, which could affect the final tally in some seats.

 ?? DAVE CHAN / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ?? Justin Trudeau waves to supporters after his victory speech at election headquarte­rs in Montreal on Monday.
DAVE CHAN / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE Justin Trudeau waves to supporters after his victory speech at election headquarte­rs in Montreal on Monday.

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