Canada's Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his wife Sophie Gregoire thanks their children Ella-Grace and Xavier during the Liberal election night party in Montreal, Quebec (Reuters)
TORONTO: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party secured victory in parliamentary elections but failed to get the majority he wanted in a vote that focused on the coronavirus pandemic but that many Canadians saw as unnecessary.
Trudeau entered Monday’s election leading a stable minority government that wasn’t under threat of being toppled — but he was hoping Canadians would reward him with a majority for navigating the pandemic better than many other leaders. Still, Trudeau struggled to justify why he called the election early given the virus, and the opposition was relentless in accusing him of holding the vote two years before the deadline for his own personal ambition.
In the end, the gamble did not pay off, and the results nearly mirrored those of two years ago. The Liberal Party was leading or elected in 158 seats — one more than they won 2019, and 12 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons. The Conservatives were leading or elected in 119 seats, two less than they won in 2019. The leftist New Democrats were leading or elected in 25, while the Bloc Quebecois were leading or elected in 34 and the Greens were down to two. “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 you just want to get back to the things you love and not worry about this pandemic or an election.”
But experts noted that it was not the win Trudeau had hoped for. “Trudeau lost his gamble to get a majority so I’d say this is a bittersweet victory for him,” said Daniel Beland, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal.
“Trudeau and the Liberals saved their skin and will stay in power, but many Canadians who didn’t want this late summer, pandemic election are probably not amused about the whole situation,” he said.
Trudeau bet Canadians didn’t want a Conservative government during a pandemic. Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. And he has pointed out that Alberta, run by a Conservative provincial government, is in crisis. Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor, said the Conservatives were hurt by the situation in Alberta.
“Waste of money” trended on social media as voters questioned the time and expense involved. Elections Canada, which runs the vote, projected that it cost C$612 million ($477.60 million) for the polls , C$110 million more than the 2019 election, which cost C$502 million.
O’Toole conceded the election, but warned Trudeau his Conservatives would be ready for the next one. Trudeau bet Canadians didn’t want a Conservative government during a pandemic.