Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party will form Canada’s next government following a tightly contested general election against conservative rival Erin O’Toole.
Trudeau, however, fell short of his target of winning the necessary 170 seats to form a majority government.
Covid-19, climatic change, housing affordability and gun control have all featured as major issues with voters — but one headache for Trudeau is that few Canadians saw the need for this election. One political expert told CNN that holding a snap election in the summer during a global pandemic has angered many voters who cannot identify a compelling “ballot box” issue to justify the undertaking.
O’Toole had sought to capitalize on the perception that Trudeau, the son of a former Canadian prime minister, is a classic liberal political elitist who is more interested in his own political ambition that leading the country.
As at 2 a.m. ET, Elections Canada showed the Liberals winning 157 seats compared to the Conservatives’ 122 seats, with nearly 95% of polls across the country reporting.
The remaining seats in the next Parliament will be held by the left-leaning New Democratic Party and the Quebec-based separatist party Bloc Quebecois.
“You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic and to the brighter days ahead. My friends, that’s exactly what we are ready to do,” Trudeau told supporters from Montreal early Tuesday.
“What we’ve seen tonight is that millions of Canadians have chosen a progressive plan. Some have talked about division but that’s not what I see. That’s not what I’ve seen these past weeks across the country.”
Trudeau called the snap election in mid-August, barely two years into his minority government, betting he could capitalize on his handling of the pandemic to win a majority.
But once-favorable polls for Trudeau and his Liberals quickly reversed course, with the O’Toole fighting his way into a statistical tie, according to national tracking surveys over the past few days.