Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gestures as he departs an election campaign stop in Burnaby, Canada. Reuters
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on track to retain power as the Liberal Party secured a victory in Monday's parliamentary elections, but looked set to fall short of his goal for a majority win.
The Liberals won the most seats of any party. The 49-year-old Trudeau channeled the star power of his father, the Liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, when he first won election in 2015 and has led his party to the top finish in two elections since.
Trudeau’s Liberals were leading or elected in 157 seats — exactly the same number they won in 2019, 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons.
Conservative leader Erin O'Toole delivers his concession speech to supporters in Oshawa, Canada, on Tuesday. AFP
Trudeau, in power since 2015 and governing with a minority since 2019, decided to gamble on an early vote and capitalise on his government's handling of the pandemic, which included massive spending to support individuals and businesses and pushing for high vaccination rates.
Erin O'Toole, the leader of Canada's main opposition Conservative Party, conceded defeat on Tuesday after failing to block Trudeau's Liberals from securing a third term.
The Conservatives were leading or elected in 121 seats, the same number they won in 2019. The leftist New Democrats were leading or elected in 29, a gain of five seats, while the Quebec-based Bloc Québécois was down three at 28 and the Greens remained at two seats.
A voter casts his ballot on voting day for the 2021 Canadian election in Montreal, Quebec, on Monday. AFP
Trudeau entered the election leading a stable minority government that wasn’t under threat of being toppled.
The opposition was relentless in accusing Trudeau of calling an unnecessary early vote — two years before the deadline — for his own personal ambition.
Instead, he will end up where he started after an unexpectedly tight election race characterized by a lackluster campaign and voter anger at an election during a pandemic.
CBC and CTV said Trudeau's Liberal government would hold a minority of seats in the House of Commons.
Elections Canada showed the Liberals leading in 156 electoral districts nationally, one more than they held before the election, including 111 in vote-rich Ontario and Quebec.
Voters line up at the Toronto Public Library, Parkdale Branch in Toronto, Canada, on Monday. AFP
"It's a Groundhog Day election," said Gerald Baier, a professor of political science at University of British Columbia. "It seems that ambivalence has stayed (from the 2019 election)."
Trudeau was slated to speak at 0030 ET (0430 GMT).
The House of Commons holds 338 seats and a party needs to win 170 to hold a majority. The Conservatives were in second place, leading in 123 districts.
Polls reported results much more slowly than usual, with some stations forced to limit occupancy due to COVID-19 restrictions. Long lines forced some electors to wait hours to vote in southern Ontario, a critical battleground.
Trudeau's Liberal party took the most seats in Parliament, giving it the best chance to form a government. However, falling short of a majority meant the Liberals would have to rely on an opposition party to pass legislation.
Officials would not reveal the nature of the threat. It resulted in a 90-minute delay before Trudeau appeared before about 2,000 supporters who had turned out as the election campaign ahead of the Oct. 21 vote.
Time magazine published the photo on Wednesday, saying it was taken from the yearbook from the West Point Grey Academy, a private school in British Columbia where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. It depicts the then 29-year-old Trudeau wearing a turban and robe, with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck.
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