Justin Trudeau to Remain Prime Minister of Canada Canadian broadcasters projected that Mr. Trudeau would remain in power after Monday’s election and that his Liberal Party will only hold a minority of seats.
Trudeau Projected to Remain Prime Minister, but Falls Short of a Majority Video Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada addressed supporters after preliminary results projected he would return to office, but fall short of a majority in parliament. Credit Credit… Dave Chan/Getty Images OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political gamble failed to pay off Monday when Canadian voters returned him to office but denied him the expanded bloc of power he had been seeking in Parliament. Unofficial election results on Monday indicated that while he would remain as prime minister, it would again be as the head of a minority government. In August, with his approval ratings high, Mr. Trudeau called a “snap election,” summoning voters to the polls two years before he had to. The goal, he said, was to obtain a strong mandate for his Liberal Party to lead the nation out of the pandemic and into recovery. But many Canadians suspected that his true ambitions were mere political opportunism, and that he was trying to regain the parliamentary majority the Liberals had until they lost seats in the 2019 election. Whatever his motive, it did not work. With some votes still being cast or uncounted, the preliminary results were a near repeat of the previous vote. The Liberal Party won 156 seats on Monday — one fewer than it acquired in 2019 — while its main rival, the Conservative Party, won 121 seats, the same as before. “If you missed the 2019 election, don’t worry, we just did a rerun for you,” said Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. The outcome left Mr. Trudeau in a familiar situation. To pass any laws, he will once again have to win members of the opposition over to his side. And, at least in theory, his party’s shaky grip on power leaves his government vulnerable to being overturned by Parliament. In his victory speech early Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau acknowledged the unpopularity of his call for a snap election. “You don’t want us talking about politics or elections anymore; you want us to focus on the work that we have to do for you,” he told a partisan crowd in a hotel in downtown Montreal. “You just want to get back to the things you love, not worry about this pandemic, or about an election.” In calling for the early election, Mr. Trudeau had argued that, like his predecessors in the aftermath of World War II, he needed a strong mandate from voters to vanquish the coronavirus and rebuild the national economy, badly damaged by the pandemic. But the announcement was not well received by many Canadians. Alarm that the government was holding an election when it did not have to, even as the Delta variant was straining hospitals in some areas, never abated for many voters during the 36-day campaign. And Mr. Trudeau’s opponents were quick to characterize his move as a reckless power grab. Erin O’Toole, the Conservative leader, went so far as to call it “un-Canadian.” In the end, Mr. Trudeau not only failed to secure a majority in Parliament, according to unofficial results, he may have also squandered the good will he had gained as he led his nation through the coronavirus crisis. “I’m wondering if the Liberals, in their minds, are saying: ‘Dang it, why did we — why did we call it?’” Kimberly Speers, a professor of political science at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said during the final week of campaigning. Now, she said, it is unclear how long any Liberal minority government will be able to hold together and what this will all mean for the party’s leader. “How long is Trudeau going to last?” Ms. Speers wondered. Image The Conservative Party leader, Erin O’Toole, at a campaign rally in Toronto this month. Credit… Blair Gable/Reuters When Mr. Trudeau first ran for office as leader of the Liberals in 2015, few political experts thought he could pull it off. He began that campaign in third place, behind the incumbent Conservatives and the left-of-center New Democratic Party. He won by presenting himself as a new voice in politics with a different approach and different ideas to go with it But that fresh young politician was little to be seen this time around. Mr. Trudeau, 49, offered voters less a vision for the future than a warning, sometimes explicitly. A return to the Conservative government under Mr. O’Toole, he said, would wipe away his government’s achievements in a variety of areas, among them gun control, gender equity, climate change, child care, poverty reduction and, above all, fighting the pandemic and getting Canadians vaccinated. “Mr. O’Toole won’t make sure the traveler sitting beside you and your kids on a train or a plane is vaccinated,” he said at a campaign rally in Surrey, British Columbia, last week. “This is the moment for real leadership. Mr. O’Toole doesn’t lead — he misleads.” Image Mr. Trudeau at a campaign stop on Sunday in Burnaby, British Columbia. Credit… Carlos Osorio/Reuters But in Mr. O’Toole, the prime minister was running against a different opponent than the Conservative leaders he had encountered in the two previous campaigns. “I am a new leader with a new style,” Mr. O’Toole, who took over the party just over a year ago, said at the outset of the campaign. “There are five parties but two choices: Canada’s Conservatives or more of the same.” A former air force helicopter navigator and corporate lawyer from Ontario, Mr. O’Toole, seeking to broaden Conservatives’ appeal, produced a 160-page campaign platform that essentially turned the party’s back on many once-central positions, like opposition to carbon taxes. After condemning Mr. Trudeau for running up large deficits with pandemic spending, Mr. O’Toole issued a plan that forecast similar budget shortfalls. He even reversed a major campaign pledge — to repeal Mr. Trudeau’s ban on 1,500 models of assault-style rifles — when it became apparent that it alienated voters who were not core Conservative supporters. Mr. O’Toole did, however, maintain his opposition to mandatory vaccination and vaccine passports. Mr. O’Toole also repeatedly attacked Mr. Trudeau’s personal integrity. He cited, as the Conservatives have repeatedly in Parliament, several low points in the prime minister’s career. The federal ethics commissioner found that Mr. Trudeau broke ethics laws when he and his staff pressured his justice minister, an Indigenous woman, in 2018 to offer a large Canadian engineering firm a deal allowing it to avoid a criminal conviction on corruption charges. Last year a charity with close ties to the Trudeau family was awarded a no-bid contract to administer a Covid-19 financial assistance plan for students. The group withdrew, the program was canceled and Mr. Trudeau was cleared of conflict of interest allegations. And while Mr. Trudeau champions diversity and racial justice, it came out during the 2019 vote that he had worn blackface or brownface at least three times in the past. “Every Canadian has met a Justin Trudeau in their lives — privileged, entitled and always looking out for No. 1,” Mr. O’Toole said during the campaign. “He’ll say anything to get elected, regardless of the damage it does to our country.” Image During the campaign, Mr. O’Toole chipped away at Mr. Trudeau’s personal integrity, reminding voters of the prime minister’s missteps. Credit… Blair Gable/Reuters Mr. Trudeau returned the criticism, saying Mr. O’Toole’s willingness to ditch Conservative policies and alter his platform mid-campaign showed it was he who would say or promise anything to voters. While many voters eagerly bumped elbows and posed for selfies with Mr. Trudeau at campaign stops, his campaign was often disturbed by unruly mobs protesting mandatory vaccines and vaccine passports. One event was canceled out of safety concerns, and Mr. Trudeau was pelted with gravel at another. Mr. Trudeau did have a strong political challenger on the left nationally with Jagmeet Singh of the New Democrats. Mr. Singh, a lawyer and former provincial lawmaker from Ontario, consistently had the highest approval ratings of all the leaders before and during the campaign. Mr. Trudeau will most likely rely on the New Democrats as his primary source of support in Parliament. But despite gaining three seats, the New Democrats’ total, 27, is a long way from holding power. In his victory speech, Mr. Trudeau evoked his “sunny ways” remarks of 2015, but in a very different context. “You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic into the brighter days ahead,” he said to cheers. “My friends, that’s exactly what we are ready to do.”
Some voters are waiting to cast their ballots as polls close in Canada. Video transcript Back bars 0:00 / 1:10 – 0:00 transcript Canadians Head to Polls for Snap Election Voters in Toronto lined up to cast their ballots in a snap election called by Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau. The government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recovery have been top issues for many voters. “Last election was very different. This one for me, given, you know, obviously the recovery after Covid, what’s important now is continuing along that path. For me, the budget is going to be really important, and sort of coming back to a level where we can actually pay the federal bills. So tightening spending a little bit while keeping ourselves safe. Vaccination is a huge issue as well. I’m definitely for the vaccine passport and even mandatory vaccination if it comes to that.” “So it seems that it’s moving smoothly. It’s just probably people are rushing to come here in the morning, but — three years ago, it was less busy. That’s why I see the difference.” Voters in Toronto lined up to cast their ballots in a snap election called by Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau. The government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recovery have been top issues for many voters. Credit Credit… Andrej Ivanov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Polling stations across Canada have closed but there are still voters waiting on long lines hoping to cast their votes in the election. Voters at one downtown Toronto polling site were told they may have to wait more than two hours. Those long lines could result in delays in some electoral districts. And election officials will spend the next couple of hours counting millions of paper ballots, by hand. Early results from the Eastern provinces showed few surprises, with Liberals predicted to dominate Atlantic Canada’s 32 electoral districts although the Conservatives gained five seats as well as a greater percentage of the votes cast. But Ontario and Quebec, the country’s most populous provinces, have been where Canadian elections are decided. Early results show the Liberals leading in the seat count but many Conservative electoral districts were still undecided. Of 338 electoral ridings, the Liberals are vying to win at least 170 seats in Canada’s House of Commons to obtain the parliamentary majority that eluded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the 2019 election. Some key districts will prove close calls, with three-way margins between the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats. Ian Austen contributed reporting.
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Many Canadians, weary of their prime minister, still see him as the least bad choice. Image A voter casting a ballot in Montreal, Quebec on Monday. Credit… Andrej Ivanov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images After years of the gravity-defying yoga poses, shirtless jogs and propensity for scandal and apologies, many Canadians have developed a bad case of Justin Trudeau fatigue. But as they went to the polls on Monday, many said they grudgingly saw him as the least worse option. Mr. Trudeau called a snap election two years early, banking his deft handling of the pandemic and the economy to allow him to go from a minority to a majority government. Instead, voters at polling stations across the country on Monday said they were angry at his hubris for doing so as the deadly virus still raged. “I think he took an awful gamble, and I don’t think he’s going to come out on the good side of this one, unfortunately,” said Lois Bell, 71, a retiree from Mississauga, in an electoral district west of Toronto with a large immigrant community that has elected a member of Parliament from Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party in the last two federal elections. “We’re not impressed.” Robert Bell, also 71, criticized Mr. Trudeau’s handling of the pandemic, pointing out that thousands of older people had died in nursing homes. On the other side of the country, in British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, Sandy Goldman, 64, a retired elementary schoolteacher and radio show host from Vancouver, called Mr. Trudeau’s decision to call an election “deplorable.” “People are upset, they’re anxious, they’re tired,” she said. Mr. Trudeau has many achievements since 2015 to point to, like helping Canada attain high vaccination rates and legalizing cannabis. As a standard-bearer for liberalism on the global stage, he has also portrayed himself as a champion of reconciliation with Indigenous people. But Cezin Nottaway, 42, an Indigenous chef from Quebec, said Mr. Trudeau is “an entitled little brat who talks the talk but doesn’t deliver.” Her preferred candidate is Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the left-leaning New Democrats and a Sikh with progressive stance on issues like climate change. “I like him because he is a brown dude, and he understands what our people have been through,” Ms. Nottaway said. Shadi Hafez, 26, an Indigenous advocate in Ottawa, said he was abstaining from the vote. Despite Mr. Trudeau’s big promises, Indigenous people still grapple with contaminated drinking water and poor access to health care, he said. All eyes could be on British Columbia , the large , potentially swing province which had a left-wing provincial government for the past four years, and was previously governed by a right-wing party for 16 years. Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals swept Vancouver in 2015 though the Conservatives gained ground in 2019. Ms. Goldman, of Vancouver, said Canada was deeply polarized. “I think we’ve gone from ‘We’re all in this together’ to being very divided,” she said. Dan Bilefsky, Vjosa Isai and
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Indigenous issues were missing from the campaign. Image Dresses along the highway in Kamloops, British Columbia, were meant to signify the children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Credit… Amber Bracken for The New York Times Many Canadians who live outside of Indigenous communities were shocked in May when human remains were discovered in unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in British Columbia. Since then, well over 1,000 human remains, mostly of children, were found at similar sites. The discoveries reignited awareness of the tragic history of the residential schools, where, from the late 19th century through the 1990s, the Canadian government forcibly sent at least 150,000 Indigenous children, in an effort to assimilate them. In 2008, a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the entire system, “cultural genocide.” But that renewed awareness did not carry over to the campaign. During a debate conducted in English, candidates said little more than that they agree in the importance of reconciliation with Indigenous people, one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s priorities. Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party, repeatedly challenged Mr. Trudeau for failing to bring clean drinking water to Indigenous communities after his nearly six years as prime minister — despite promising to do so in five years. “It’s certainly not the capacity, it’s certainly not the lack of technology, it’s certainly not the money, because we have the resources,” Mr. Singh said during a campaign stop at Neskantaga First Nation in Northern Ontario. “I don’t buy for a second that it is anything other than the political will.” Mr. Singh has offered few specifics about how he would succeed where Mr. Trudeau has struggled. The government has allocated just over two billion Canadian dollars, about $1.5 billion, to the effort and created a new cabinet position, the minister of Indigenous services. Mr. Trudeau often boasts that the government has brought clean water to 109 First Nations communities. In this election for the House of Commons there are 50 Indigenous candidates, according to the Assembly of First Nations. But Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, the New Democratic Party member who represents Nunavut, is not seeking re-election, in part because of the difficulties she has faced as an Indigenous lawmaker. “The systems are built to work for certain people,” she told The Globe and Mail in June. “It’s middle-aged white men.”
Internal strife hampers the Greens amid climate crisis. Image Green Party Leader Annamie Paul during a debate in Gatineau, Canada, earlier this month. Credit… Pool photo by Justin Tang Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Monday’s vote two years ahead of schedule, the move was widely anticipated and most of Canada’s political parties had prepared accordingly. For the Green Party, however, the timing could not have been worse. As extreme weather events raged in the Western provinces, including record-setting heat waves, wildfires, and droughts that reinforced the importance of climate change on the national agenda, the Greens were distracted by embarrassing public infighting. Since June, the party has been buffeted by turmoil following a rift between Annamie Paul, its leader, and its executive. The internal acrimony reached the point where Ms. Paul took legal action against her own party to successfully quash a review of her leadership scheduled for July. In a recent interview with Canada’s national broadcaster, Ms. Paul said she had contemplated quitting but wanted to see her party through the snap election. Initially it had appeared that Ms. Paul might revive the party which elected a record three members to House of Commons in 2019. As a Black, Jewish woman, she helped buttress the diversity of the party which, by some measures, fielded one of the least diverse slates of candidates in past elections. A human rights lawyer, Ms. Paul had a distinguished career that included time as a diplomat. Unlike Elizabeth May, who previously headed the party for 15 years, Ms. Paul was not a well-known environmental activist. And rather than focusing on climate issues, as was the case with Ms. May, Ms. Paul has steered her platform toward economic and social justice. The Green Party’s platform, released late in the brief campaign, called for a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. But critics said the party failed to provide a viable blueprint for reaching its objectives. At the same time, the party’s climate change agenda has been overshadowed by some of its rivals, including Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals, which in July set an ambitious target of reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions to between 40 and 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Ian Austen, Dan Bilefsky and
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Canadian pundits: whatever happens in the election, Trudeau is the loser. Image Justin Trudeau during a campaign stop on Sunday in Burnaby, British Columbia. Credit… Carlos Osorio/Reuters Even if he manages to win the vote, many pundits across Canada have had a common refrain this week: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is, long term, the likely loser of the 2021 federal election. In the United States and beyond, Mr. Trudeau is perceived as a telegenic rock star, who became a foil for President Trump during his presidency, and one of a handful of global liberal leading lights. But at home, his decision to call a snap election in the midst of a pandemic was seen as a political folly that would diminish his stature, potentially undermine his already fragile plurality in Parliament and weaken his ability to govern. Mr. Trudeau’s political fate largely rests on his ability to win over capricious voters in Quebec and Ontario, the two most populous Canadian provinces. Both have large ethnic minority communities whose support has been essential for the Liberal Party. Writing in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, a leading national newspaper, the columnist Campbell Clark argued that the prime minister nor his rivals had offered a compelling narrative, only sniping. “Justin Trudeau started the campaign Aug. 15 telling us that this is perhaps the most ‘pivotal’ moment the country has faced since the Second World War,” he wrote. “But he struggled to make clear what point the future turned on.” Writing in Montreal-based La Presse, Canada’s leading French-language newspaper, Joel-Denis Bellavance asked why Mr. Trudeau had called an election when the fourth wave was raging, Parliament was functioning well, even with a minority government, and no opposition parties wanted a new vote. Justin Trudeau, he answered, “had been incapable of justifying” his call for a vote “in a convincing manner.” That skepticism of Mr. Trudeau was also echoed in The Guardian, a newspaper from Charlotteville, Prince Edward Island, in Atlantic Canada. “Trudeau, 49, called an early election, seeking to convert approval for his government’s handling of the pandemic into a parliamentary majority,” the paper wrote. “But he is now scrambling to save his job.” Despite the perception of Canada as a country of multicultural harmony, other analysts said they expected the vote to have echoes of the last elections in 2019, which exposed deep regional divisions between the urban, left-leaning East and more conservative views in parts of western Canada like Alberta. “So, what was the point of this exercise?” asked the columnist Tom Brodbeck. “The most likely outcome after the polls close tonight is Canadians will have another Liberal minority government, a divided country and an additional $610 million in federal debt (the estimated cost of holding the federal election). Worse, Canada will have lost precious time fighting the pandemic.”
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Justin Trudeau casts his ballot. Video transcript Back bars 0:00 / 0:42 – 0:00 transcript Justin Trudeau Casts Ballot in Canadian Election The prime minister called for the snap election two years early, saying that he needed a strong mandate to bring the pandemic under control and lead Canada to economic recovery. “Bonjour.” The prime minister called for the snap election two years early, saying that he needed a strong mandate to bring the pandemic under control and lead Canada to economic recovery. Credit Credit… Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press The polls are open, and Canadians will decide today whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will get another term, and how much of a presence in Parliament his Liberal Party should have. Mr. Trudeau arrived at a polling station around 11 a.m. in his electoral district of Papineau in Montreal to cast his ballot, accompanied by his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and their three children. His youngest son, Hadrien, assisted him with depositing his ballot in the ballot box. Turnout today may be lower than usual because of people seeking to avoid crowds and vote early. This election, 5.8 million Canadians cast their ballots in the four days of early voting last week — an 18 percent increase in early turnout compared with the previous election. But that doesn’t necessarily mean shorter lines. There are about 1,200 fewer polling locations across the country this year compared with in 2019, for a total of 14,300, according to a recent estimate by Elections Canada. The locations have been chosen for their size and ability to space people out to respect local Covid-19 protocols.