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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Reuters)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Reuters)

Opinion | Liberals scrape through in Canada

The election results point towards an erosion in Justin Trudeau's popularity, but his victory signals that liberalism still trumps conservatism in the land of maple leaf harmony

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to have retained power in an election that many thought would see his ouster. It’s not a convincing victory. Trudeau’s Liberal Party has secured 157 seats in the country’s 338-member parliament, 13 short of a majority. For someone who brought his party from third place to deliver a landslide win in 2015, this may be a disappointment. Trudeau will now have to lead a minority government. He will likely have to work with smaller left-of-centre parties to govern the country.

The Canadian vote came down to a choice between the charismatic Trudeau and the Conservative Party’s unassuming leader Andrew Scheer. Some observers had thought Canada was fed up with Trudeau’s brand of liberalism. On sticky issues such as immigration, legalization of cannabis, and so on, the prime minister seemed all too eager to push the envelope beyond what Conservatives could bear. It did make him a darling of the international media, and his vocal support for progressive causes was partly the reason the move-to-Canada movement gained such traction in America after Donald Trump won its presidency.

Trudeau was seen to be riding a high. But then came a series of gaffes, both at home and abroad. Old photos emerged of him in a get-up that could be interpreted as patronizing towards the dark-skinned, if not racist, and he could not shake off the whiff of a corruption scandal. Monday’s results point towards an erosion in his popularity, but his victory signals that liberalism still trumps conservatism in the land of maple leaf harmony.

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