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    Canada election: Trudeau's Liberals win but lose majority

    October 22, 2019

    "Canadians voted in favour of a progressive agenda" - Justin Trudeau's victory speechJustin Trudeau's Liberal Party has retained power in a narrow Canadian election win but he will now be prime minister of a minority government.The Liberals are projected to win 157 seats, 13 short of a majority, and will find it harder to pass legislation in Mr Trudeau's second term.The opposition Conservatives are expected to win the popular vote but have not translated that into seats.They are projected to take 121, up from the 95 they held before.
    Although Monday night's results saw a sharp decline in seats for the country's left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), its leader, Jagmeet Singh, could become the kingmaker.The NDP is projected to take 24 seats in the 338-seat parliament.Quebec's separatist party, the Bloc Québécois, which competes only in that province, fared much better. It is expected to take 32 seats, compared to the 10 it won in 2015.Turnout is currently listed at 66%.The federal election was seen as a referendum on Mr Trudeau, who had a bumpy first term, tainted by scandal.
    Mr Trudeau told cheering supporters in Montreal that voters had "rejected division and negativity... and they rejected cuts and austerity and voted in favour of a progressive agenda and strong action on climate change".He said: "Thank you for having faith in us to move our country in the right direction."And to those who did not back him, he promised his party would govern for everyone.His weakened grip on power is being seen as a rebuke of his record but the result is bitterly disappointing for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.Mr Trudeau swept into power in 2015 promising "real change" and a slew of progressive pledges.But after four years in power, Mr Trudeau faced criticism for his ability to follow through.His environmental record, for example, has been undercut by his support for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project.And Mr Trudeau's vow to institute federal electoral reform was quickly abandoned, angering some left-leaning voters excited by the prospect of seeing an alternative voting systemStill, according to an independent assessment by two dozen Canadian academics, Mr Trudeau has kept - fully or partially - 92% of these promises, the most by any Canadian government in 35 years.
    An ethics scandal early this year, known as the SNC-Lavalin affair, took a major toll on his support.Last month an ethics watchdog found the prime minister had violated federal conflict of interest rules by improperly trying to influence a former minister in relation to a criminal trial facing major Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
    Supporters of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer react to the latest results
    Mr Trudeau's election odds then seemed at risk when images of the prime minister wearing blackface make-up in three separate instances were widely circulated.The images were seen as a major hit to Mr Trudeau's cultivated political image, characterised by compassion and inclusion.What have the leaders said?
    In his speech, Mr Trudeau also addressed Quebec and the provinces in western Canada, where his party had not fared well, saying: "I've heard your frustration."Mr Scheer said he was "incredibly proud" of the larger Conservative team going to Ottawa.He said the country was "further divided" and that his party had put Mr Trudeau "on notice, his leadership is damaged and his government will end soon".
    The Conservatives are projected to take 34.4% of the popular vote, compared to the Liberals' 33%. However, the first-past-the-post system - awarding victory to the candidate with most votes in any given constituency - means that has not translated to seats won.Speaking from his home district in Burnaby, British Columbia, Mr Singh acknowledged some disappointing results but focused on the future, promising to make "Canadians' life... better".Green Party leader Elizabeth May said the election had been a success. It is expected to take three seats, compared to one in 2015.
    Analysts believe the obvious link would again be between the Liberals and the NDP. They also believe the Bloc Québécois - which has softened its stance on demands for independence - will neither enter a coalition nor force another election.Indeed, in his post-results speech, Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet said: "We have to find a way to make this parliament work."Without any agreed coalition, Mr Trudeau would clearly need to compromise to get policies through.Mr Scheer will have to assess his position. He pitched himself to Canadians as the candidate speaking up for issues which directly affect voters' lives and wallets.But instead he faced scrutiny over where the Conservative Party stood on gay marriage and abortion.
    The good news - and bad - for Canada's PM
    By Jessica Murphy
    BBC News, Montreal
    5 hours ago
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    Related TopicsCanada election 2019

    Media caption"Canadians voted in favour of a progressive agenda" - Justin Trudeau's victory speech
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has retained power in Canada's election but lost both his majority and - by a slight margin - the popular vote. Here is a breakdown of the good news for his Liberal party - and the bad.

    Good news - he's still in power
    It was a tough election battle for the Liberals but there was the sense late on Monday night among party faithful in Montreal that they could now breathe a little easier.

    When TV networks began projecting a Liberal minority, supporters at the election night headquarters erupted into chants of "four more years" as a sense of relief passed through the crowd.

    "The Liberals did better than we thought they would," said supporter Brian, who chose not to give his last name, saying he had been spooked by polls that suggested a tighter race.

    Liberals retain power but lose majority
    Election night: As it happened
    Former Liberal MP Marlene Jennings says voters "have shown they still have trust in the Liberal government and in Justin Trudeau, and they definitely didn't want a Conservative government, not even a minority government".

    Still, Ms Jennings conceded she had grown frustrated watching the campaign get sidetracked by "so-called scandals" during the last few weeks.

    "There were times during the campaign where I wanted to take the Liberal strategists and shake them and say: 'Why aren't we talking about the great things we've done over and over again?'"

    Bad news - his star power is diminished
    Mr Trudeau had an exceptionally long honeymoon by most political standards - but his popularity has clearly dimmed with the Canadian public.

    Where did he stumble?


    Media captionFour years of Justin Trudeau in two minutes
    Even before the election campaign began on 11 September, his approval ratings had slipped.

    The first trouble with the Canadian public came after a disastrous overseas trip to India, which took place against a backdrop of photo-ops showcasing the Trudeau family in elaborate traditional Indian outfits.

    Then came the SNC-Lavalin affair - an ethics scandal related to attempts to pressure a former attorney general to cut a deal for a firm facing a corruption trial, which further tarnished Mr Trudeau's personal brand.

    That former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was booted out of the Liberal party by Mr Trudeau.

    Against the odds, Ms Wilson-Raybould ran and won as an independent in her Vancouver riding.

    Image copyrightREUTERS
    Image caption
    Jody Wilson-Raybould
    The woman who fought Trudeau
    How damaging is blackface scandal?
    She is a vocal critic of Mr Trudeau and will serve as a reminder of that scandal in the House of Commons.

    Finally, revelations that Mr Trudeau wore blackface - widely seen as a racist caricature - on at least three occasions shook the Liberal campaign and forced Mr Trudeau to ask Canadians to forgive him for his past misbehaviour.

    Bad news - the Liberals lost the West
    The prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan turned entirely Conservative blue - with the exception of one New Democratic Party (NDP) stronghold in the city of Edmonton.

    That blue wave helped the Conservatives gain almost 30 seats in Monday's election, taking them from 95 to about 122.

    The Liberals were never going to sweep those deeply Conservative regions. Even at the height of their popularity in 2015 they only held a handful of seats in those two provinces.

    But now Alberta and Saskatchewan have turned solidly away from Mr Trudeau's party amid a sense in western Canada that its interests are not represented in Canada's capital of Ottawa.

    Wexit: Why some Albertans want to separate from Canada
    With final results still rolling in early Tuesday morning, the Conservatives also had a slight lead in the popular vote - 34.5% to the Liberals' 33%.

    Where it went wrong for Canada's Conservatives
    That did not escape the attention of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer who said in his speech to party faithful that "more Canadians wanted us to win than any other party".

    Bad news - the Bloc bounced back
    The Bloc Quebecois has also had a resurgence.

    Voters had relegated the party calling for sovereignty for Quebec to the sidelines in the last two elections - but its fortunes turned under the new leadership of Yves-Francois Blanchet, and they more than tripled its seat count, from 10 to an estimated 32.

    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Mr Blanchet campaigned under the slogan "Quebec, c'est nous" or "We are Quebec", and on being a strong voice in Ottawa for that province's interests.

    The party, which only runs candidates in Quebec, is at odds with Mr Trudeau on issues like the province's controversial secularism law - Bill 21 - which prevents judges, police officers, teachers and public servants holding some other positions from wearing religious symbols such as the kippah, turban or hijab while at work.

    Mr Trudeau did offer an olive branch to those Canadians who rejected the Liberals at the ballot box, and said he had heard the frustration from prairie voters loud and clear.

    "To those who did not vote for us, know that we will work every single day for you," he said. "We will govern for everyone."

    Good news - he can still govern with a minority
    Mr Trudeau will need the support of other parties to enact his promised "progressive agenda" if he wants to hold on to power.

    One likely ally is the NDP, who could help the Liberals to survive key confidence votes and to pass legislation.

    But that support comes at a cost.

    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Image caption
    From left: Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh
    NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has already set out his party's laundry list of priorities in a minority situation: support for a national pharmacare plan, investments in housing, addressing student debt, lowering cell phone and internet bills, action on climate, and raising taxes on the wealthiest Canadians.

    But Mr Singh's position is less clear on the Trans Mountain pipeline project, which would triple the capacity of crude oil the current pipeline carries to the west coast.

    Mr Trudeau's Liberals support the project, saying it is in Canada's national interest.

    In his speech to supporters late in the early hours of Tuesday, Mr Singh vowed his party would play a "positive role" in Ottawa.

    But support for a minority government also usually has an expiration date.

    On average, minority governments in Canada last about a year and a half to two years, much shorter than the usual four-year majority term.

    Good news - voters do want climate action
    The Conservatives had pledged to immediately repeal Mr Trudeau's signature climate policy if they came to power.

    But now it looks like the federal carbon tax - imposed on four provinces that did not already have their own cap-and-trade programme or price on carbon in place - will live another day.

    It should not be too difficult for Mr Trudeau to secure support from across party lines for his climate policies.


    Media captionWhat's more important to Canadians — the economy or the environment?
    The NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and Canada's Greens, which added a seat in Atlantic Canada, all campaigned on taking action on the environment.

    "You've asked us to show even more vision and ambition as we tackle the greatest challenge of this era - climate change," Mr Trudeau said in his victory speech.

    "That is exactly what we'll do."

    Where it went wrong for Conservatives
    Canada's Conservative Party have failed to unseat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party, despite hard questions about his record in government. So what went wrong?

    It was certainly not a victory but neither was it a clear defeat for the Conservatives on election night.

    The country elected a Liberal minority government with a projected 155 seats out of 338. The Conservatives got 122, according to the CBC election tracker.

    But the Conservatives edged out the Liberals in the popular vote - 34.5% to 33%.

    "Let's remember this feeling, coming close but falling just short," Conservative leader Andrew Scheer told supporters in Regina, Saskatchewan.

    The party made some gains, sweeping the prairies and picking up seats in New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia. That leaves the Conservatives with 24 more seats now than they had in 2015.

    There was a point in the campaign when it seemed they would win.

    With scandals like SNC-Lavalin and revelations about blackface haunting him, Mr Trudeau had never been weaker. Days before the election, some polls projected the Conservatives would win the most seats.
    The New Democratic Party, with 25 seats, has said it will not work with the Conservatives.

    And the Green Party, with three seats, refuses to support any oil or gas pipelines - key issues for many in the west, where oil and gas industries make up a large part of the economy.

    It is a no-win scenario for many, says Adrienne Ivy, a rancher from Saskatchewan who attended the Conservatives' viewing party on election night.

    "The idea of a minority government is a little unsettling for everyone since it's the unknown," she said.

    "Western Canada is feeling extremely alienated already, and the results we're seeing today only further that to a higher degree."


    Media caption"Canadians voted in favour of a progressive agenda" - Justin Trudeau's victory speech
    The loss comes at a time when the Conservative Party is trying to prove that a centre-right party can govern, as populist or right-wing parties win power elsewhere.

    Mr Scheer favoured economic arguments over ideological ones, campaigning on the promise of lower taxes and balancing the budget but avoiding divisive social issues.

    Although as a devout Roman Catholic he opposes gay marriage and abortion personally, he says he would not bring the issues to a vote if the Conservatives were in power.

    Most notably, in comparison with his conservative foreign counterparts, Mr Scheer has avoided the kind of anti-immigrant rhetoric that propelled the rise of Donald Trump in the US.

    Devinder Shory, a former MP from Calgary, Alberta, who was born in India, says there is no reason why immigrants should not be part of a Canadian conservative movement.

    "I believe the Canadian values and all the ethnic values, the new immigrant values are Conservative values," he said. "We believe in working hard and lowering taxes.
    When then-Conservative MP Maxime Bernier criticised Canada's "extreme multiculturalism", Mr Scheer censored him, leading Mr Bernier to quit the party to form the People's Party of Canada.

    That gamble did not pan out for Mr Bernier, who lost his seat and failed to get a single candidate elected.

    But that does not mean there is no populist movement in Canada.


    Media captionHow important is bilingualism on the campaign trail?
    In Ontario, the Conservative provincial government of Doug Ford toppled a long-held Liberal government with promises to repeal progressive sex education in public schools, cut the fat in government and stem the tide of refugees crossing at the US border.

    Mr Scheer did not go to Mr Ford for provincial campaign support, which many speculated was because he was afraid Mr Ford's message would scare moderate voters.

    But there are voters in the party who might like to see some of his style make its way back.

    "I'm tired of being called names just because I disagree with uncontrolled borders," says mother Melanie Burns, who recently moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan to raise her four-year-old in a more conservative province.

    Now the party must decide how much to listen to people like Melanie and Mr Ford, or whether the centre can hold.



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