IN an exciting conclusion to a 78-day campaign, Canada’s Liberal party toppled the ruling Conservative party and socialist New Democratic Party (NDP) in the general election.
The Liberal party, led by leader – and now Prime Minister – Justin Trudeau, had only 36 seats out of the available 308 in the previous parliament, the least amount of seats out of the three main parties. The Liberals were also behind both the NDP and Tories in the campaign’s opinion polls with the NDP leading at 33.2 per cent and the Tories following at 30.9 per cent, according to the CBC’s Poll Tracker.
When the campaign went into the first of the broadcasted debates, Trudeau came out as an unexpected contender in what was widely thought to be a spar between NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He had shown himself in the debate to be aggressive towards the two leaders and readily defended himself when attacked by the other two parties.
The Liberal leader was the main target of a series of Tory attack advertisements claiming that Trudeau, 43 years old and an MP in Montreal since 2008, was inexperienced and “just not ready” to be prime minister. He is the son of former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who led Canada from 1968 to 1984.
As the leaders competed in early October’s French-language debate, the NDP’s original spike in public opinion, which went as high as 37.4 per cent in August, was waning to more modest levels as the Liberals gained momentum. At that point, the Conservatives and Liberals were neck-in-neck at the polls. The Liberals eventually overtook the Tories by gaining 37.2 per cent of the popular vote the night before Election Day.
The Liberals won 184 seats out of 338 (30 new ridings were created for the election), earning them a majority government. The Tories’ control went down to 99 seats and the NDP was left in shambles, a fate that the Liberal party could relate to, shrinking their hold to 44 seats.
The landslide win by Trudeau ended in former Prime Minister Stephen Harper resigning from Conservative leadership.
“We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work, we beat negative divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together,” said the new Prime Minister during his victory speech.
“In Canada, better is always possible.”
With Canada in recession, the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, and pressure from other nations to increase foreign aid and military intervention against the Islamic State, Trudeau inherits a variety of issues affecting Canada and the world.
Going from underdog to the top of the podium, Trudeau’s ability to lead will be tested by his opponents and new challenges await him as he calls in the new parliament.
By Martin McFarlane