Ottawa : Canadians brought Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau back to power on Monday in a hotly contested election against a rookie Conservative leader, according to TV network projections.
But with polls likely to yield results until the next morning, it was not yet clear whether his party had managed to secure an absolute majority of seats in parliament that would allow it to pass its program without the backing of the EU. opposition.
Trudeau called a snap election last month, hoping to turn a smooth deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine – among the best in the world – into a new mandate to guide the country’s exit from the pandemic.
But the contest, after five chaotic weeks of campaigning, looked set for a repeat of the close 2019 general election that saw the former golden boy in Canadian politics cling to power while losing his majority in Parliament. .
A sudden increase in Covid-19 cases led by the Delta variant at the end of the campaign – after most public health measures were lifted this summer – had also muddied the waters.
Trudeau said earlier that he felt “serene” after voting in Montreal.
“We have worked very hard during this campaign, and Canadians are making an important choice,” he told AFP, surrounded by his wife Sophie Grégoire and their children.
At 49, Trudeau has faced more difficult political battles and still comes out unscathed.
But after six years in power, his administration was showing signs of fatigue, and it was an uphill battle for him to convince Canadians to stick with his Liberals after failing to meet the high expectations set in his landslide victory in 2015.
Trudeau “lied to us”
Long queues in front of polling stations were observed by AFP journalists in several major cities. Elections Canada tweeted that anyone in line after the stations closed would still be allowed to vote.
Douglas O’Hara, 73, voting in Trudeau’s Montreal electoral district, Papineau, said he was “very disappointed” with the Prime Minister.
Although he believes Trudeau “did a half-decent job” in dealing with the pandemic, he recalled that the leader had pledged not to go to the polls until the epidemic subsided.
“Then whenever he gets the chance (when) he thinks he’s going to get a majority, he calls an election,” O’Hara said. “I really believe he lied to us. “
In Ottawa, Kai Anderson, 25, said Canada’s response to the pandemic was his “number one” problem. “I think the Prime Minister has done a good job in dealing with the pandemic,” she said.
Liz Maier, 72, of Vancouver, said she too hoped for Trudeau’s victory for “leadership consistency” during the public health crisis.
Entering the home stretch of the contest, the two main political parties that have ruled Canada since its confederation in 1867 were practically tied, with around 31% support each in the opinion polls, and four smaller factions theirs. following suit.
Pollster Tim Powers predicted a victory for the Liberal minority.
“But is it a victory for him?” he said, noting that Trudeau had hoped for more than just a plurality of seats.
‘Anti-vaxxer mobs’, ‘counterattacks’ in China
The campaign saw candidates fight over climate actions, Indigenous reconciliation, affordable housing, mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations and vaccine passports.
During rallies, Trudeau was harassed by what he described as “anti-vaxxer mobs,” including one who threw stones at him.
48-year-old Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, meanwhile, has been knocked out for his support for Alberta and two other Conservative-led provinces. Canada for care.
He also fumbled over gun control and was warned by Beijing, according to Chinese state media, that his proposal to take a hard line on China – Canada’s second largest trading partner, with whom the Relations have deteriorated because of the detention of two Canadians – “would invite counterattacks.” “
Overall, commented Max Cameron, professor of politics at the University of British Columbia, “it was not a polarizing election. There is actually a lot of clustering around the middle. “
O’Toole, an unknown who only became leader of the Tories last year, followed his party to the political center, forcing the Liberals to compete for left-wing votes with the New Democrats and Greens, as well as the Quebec separatist Bloc.
However, the Conservatives have also seen their support scratched by the far-right People’s Party of former Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)