Canadians gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party a victory in Monday’s legislative election, but it was unclear whether their bid to win the majority of seats was successful.
The Liberals were on track to win the most seats of all parties. Trudeau, 49, channeled the star power of his father, the liberal icon and the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau when he first won the election in 2015 and now appears to have led his party to first place in two elections since.
The Liberals led in 148 ridings, the Conservatives in 103, the Bloc Québécois de Québec in 28 and the New Democratic Left Party in 22.
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Trudeau bet Canadians didn’t want a Conservative government during a pandemic. Canada is now one of the most vaccinated countries in the world and the Trudeau government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to support the economy amid the lockdowns and he argued that the Conservatives’ approach, which was skeptical with regard to blockages and vaccination mandates, would be dangerous. and says Canadians need a government that follows science.
The opposition has repeatedly accused Trudeau of calling for an unnecessary early vote – two years before the deadline – for his own personal ambition. Trudeau entered the election as the head of a stable minority government that was not in danger of being toppled.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole did not demand that his party’s candidates be vaccinated and did not specify how many were unvaccinated. O’Toole has described vaccination as a personal health decision, but a growing number of vaccinated Canadians are increasingly unhappy with those who refuse to be vaccinated.
Trudeau supports the requirement for Canadians to be vaccinated by plane or train, which the Conservatives oppose. And Trudeau pointed out that Alberta, led by a Conservative provincial government, is in crisis.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, an O’Toole ally, said the province could run out of intensive care unit beds and staff within days. Kenney has apologized for the dire situation and now reluctantly introduces a vaccination passport and imposes a mandatory work-at-home order two months after lifting nearly all restrictions.
A Conservative victory would have represented a reprimand by Trudeau on a politician with a fraction of his name recognition. O’Toole, 47, is a military veteran, former lawyer and nine-year MP.
O’Toole introduced himself a year ago as a “true blue conservative”. He became leader of the Conservative Party with a pledge to “take back Canada”, but immediately began to work to push the party towards the political center.
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O’Toole’s strategy, which included disavowing his party’s cherished grassroots positions on issues such as climate change, guns and balanced budgets, was designed to appeal to a wider range of people. voters in a country that tends to be much more liberal than its neighbor to the south.
The son of a longtime politician has come under criticism, he will say and do anything to get elected.
Whether moderate Canadians believed O’Toole was the Progressive Conservative he claims to be and whether he alienated mainstream 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 being held during a pandemic. He noted that provincial elections were also held during the pandemic.
“Everyone has been so concerned about COVID in recent years that maybe it wasn’t a bad thing to do some sort of rechecking,” he said.
Trudeau’s legacy includes the adoption of immigration at a time when the United States and other countries have closed their doors. He also legalized cannabis nationwide and instituted a carbon tax to fight climate change. And he preserved the free trade deal with the United States and Mexico amid threats from former US President Donald Trump to cancel the deal.
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Former US President Barack Obama and former Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted their support for Trudeau. There was no Trump endorsement of O’Toole. Conservative campaign co-chair Walied Soliman said there was no alignment between O’Toole and Trumpism. Soliman said earlier today that keeping Trudeau in a minority government would be a victory for O’Toole.
Associated Press writer Jim Morris in Vancouver, British Columbia, contributed to this report.