Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party has won the snap parliamentary elections held on Monday, but the liberals failed to win a clear majority in the House of Commons, a goal Trudeau had hoped to achieve when he called an early election in mid-August amidst a raging pandemic.
In his victory speech at his Montreal campaign headquarters, Trudeau said, “You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic.”
Trudeau said, “I hear you when you say that you just want to get back to the things you love, not worry about this pandemic, or about an election. That you just want to know that your members of Parliament of all stripes will have your back through this crisis, and beyond. The moment we face demands real important change, and you have given this Parliament and this government clear direction.”
This was Trudeau third win in the general elections. His Liberal Party look set to bag 156 seats; one less than they won in 2019, and 14 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the parliament. The 49-year-old Trudeau first won the election in 2015 and has led his party to the further two victories in two elections since; however, in the last two elections – including this snap poll – late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s son has failed to secure a clear majority.
The main opposition Conservative Party of Canada were leading or elected in 121 seats, the same number they won in 2019. Meanwhile, the leftist New Democrats were set to secure in 27, a gain of three seats while the Quebec-based Bloc Québécois held onto their 32 seats. The Greens could only win two seats.
After the close of polling, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said, “Canadians did not give Mr Trudeau the majority mandate he wanted.”
O’Toole said he was more determined than ever to continue but his party might replace him with a new face as the conservatives dumped their previous leader who failed to beat Trudeau in 2019. O’Toole called himself a year ago as a “true-blue Conservative” and pledged to “Take Back Canada” after he became Conservative Party leader but has since worked to push the party toward the political centre.
Earlier in August, Trudeau called the early election while leading a stable minority government that was not under any real threat of being toppled. The Prime Minister came under relentless criticism from the opposition who accused Trudeau of calling an unnecessary early vote — two years before the deadline — for his own personal ambition.
The COVID-19 was the central issue of this election and Trudeau’s gamble was to try and win a clear majority on the back of his handling of the pandemic. Canada is among the most fully vaccinated countries in the world and Trudeau’s liberal administration has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to keep the economy stable amid lockdowns. Trudeau ran on the policy slogan that Canadians need a government that follows science, not what the Conservatives promote: scepticism toward lockdowns and vaccine mandates.
While Trudeau has supported making vaccines mandatory for Canadians to travel by air or rail, the Conservatives are against the idea. Conservative leader O’Toole did not order his party’s candidates to be vaccinated as he considers vaccination to be a personal health decision. Meanwhile, major polls suggest that pro-vaccine Canadians are concerned about those who refuse to get vaccinated.
Experts say that the dire situation in the Conservative led-Alberta reinforced Trudeau’s argument for mandatory vaccinations and potentially swung the tide as about two weeks before the polls, it appeared that the Liberals might lose government outright. Experts say that Alberta’s conservative Premier Jason Kenney’s admission of the grim situation in the province, the reluctant introduction of vaccine passports, and the imposition of a mandatory work-from-home order just two months after lifting nearly all restrictions had undermined O’Toole’s upbeat predictions of overthrowing Trudeau’s government.
Trudeau is expected to continue his flagship policies of embracing immigration and making strides to battle climate change.