Canadians gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party a victory in Monday’s legislative election, but its bet to win a majority of seats fell through and almost mirrored the outcome of two years ago.
The Liberals won the most seats of any party. Trudeau, 49, channeled the star power of his father, liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, when he first won the election in 2015 and led his party to the top in two elections since .
Trudeau’s Liberals were ahead or elected in 156 seats – one fewer than they won in 2019, and 14 fewer of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives were either in the lead or elected in 121 seats, the same number they won in 2019. The left-wing New Democrats were in the lead or elected in 27 seats, a gain of three seats, while the Bloc Québécois, based in Quebec, remained unchanged with 32 seats and the Greens. had fallen to two.
“You send us back to work with a clear mandate to help Canada navigate this pandemic,” Trudeau said.
“I hear you when you say you just want to get back to the things you love and not worry about this pandemic or an election.”
Trudeau entered the election as the head of a stable minority government that was not in danger of being toppled.
The opposition has repeatedly accused Trudeau of calling for an unnecessary early vote – two years before the deadline – for his own personal ambition.
“Trudeau lost his bet to get the majority, so I would say it’s a bittersweet victory for him,” said Daniel Béland, professor of political science at McGill University in Montreal.
“Basically we are back to square one, because 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 did not want a pandemic election at the end of the summer are probably not amused by the whole situation, ”he said.
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. Trudeau argued that the Conservatives’ approach, which has been skeptical of lockdowns and vaccination mandates, would be dangerous and said Canadians need a government that follows science.
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.
“The vaccination debate and Trudeau confronting the anti-vaccination mob helped the Liberals save a campaign that did not start well for the party,” Beland said.
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-from-home order two months after lifting nearly all restrictions.
“The hubris led Trudeau to call the election. He and the Liberals won the election, but lost the price they were looking for. It’s just a great night for the Liberals because two weeks ago it looked like they would lose the government outright, which they couldn’t imagine before betting on an election, ”said Nelson Wiseman , professor of political science at the University of Toronto.
Wiseman said the Conservatives were hurt by the situation in Alberta. “The outbreak of the pandemic in Alberta over the past 10 days has undermined O’Toole’s compliments to the Alberta Conservatives on how they had handled the pandemic and reinforced Trudeau’s argument for compulsory vaccinations, ”he said.
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.
“Canadians did not give Mr. Trudeau the majority mandate he wanted,” said O’Toole.
O’Toole said he was more determined than ever to keep going, but his party could dump him after ditching the former leader who failed to beat Trudeau in 2019.
O’Toole introduced himself a year ago as a “true blue conservative”. He became leader of the Conservative Party with the promise to “take back Canada”, but immediately began to work to push the party towards the political center.
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.
Regina Adshade, a 28-year-old software developer in Vancouver, said she was disturbed that an election was called early, during a pandemic and with wildfires in British Columbia. But that didn’t stop her from voting liberal because the party represents her values.
“I don’t like that there was an election right now, but it wasn’t going to change my vote,” she 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.
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.
The Liberals ruled Canada for 69 years during the 20th century. Pierre Trudeau called for a “just society” and ruled the country with a panache never seen before from a Canadian leader. He is responsible for the Canadian version of the Bill of Rights and is credited with opening the door wide to immigration.
Trudeau’s Liberals dominated Toronto, Canada’s largest city and one of the most multicultural cities in the world.