Trudeau seems unlikely to win a majority | Islander
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could cling to power in Monday’s election, but is set to lose his parliamentary majority candidacy after a tough campaign that dashed his hopes for a convincing victory.
Trudeau has a minority administration, forcing him to lean on other parties and make political compromises to govern.
Opinion polls last month showing him far ahead, he called the vote two years earlier, saying voters must weigh in on the handling of COVID-19 by his center-left liberal government.
But as dissatisfaction with the early call grew, he failed to maintain his big lead. Liberal strategists concede that it will be difficult to win most of the 338 seats in the House of Commons.
In recent days, Trudeau, 49 – whose government has racked up record debt while fighting COVID-19 – has focused on the need for everyone to get vaccinated. He supports vaccination mandates, while Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, 48, prefers rapid testing.
“We need clear and strong leadership that will continue to unequivocally promote vaccines, and that is what we will do. Mr. O’Toole, he cannot, and he will not,” said Trudeau told his supporters in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Sunday on a frenzied final day that saw him travel 4,500 km across Canada.
If Trudeau does not achieve a majority, it would represent a defeat that is sure to raise questions about his future.
The charismatic progressive politician, son of longtime former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, came to power in 2015. But he was reduced to a minority in 2019 after old photos of him with a black face emerged.
Polls show the Liberals are on par with the Conservatives, which theoretically gives Trudeau an advantage, since Liberal strength lies in the urban centers that hold most of the seats.
“There’s no world it’s not tight,” said a senior Liberal strategist. “Is a majority possible? Yes. Is that the most likely scenario? No.”
Liberals admit voters could be put off by an election call. Low turnout tends to favor the Conservatives.
To complicate matters, the two parties face voting divisions. The Liberals compete with the left-wing New Democrats, while the right-wing anti-vaccination People’s Party of Canada (PPC) could hurt the Conservatives.
“Justin Trudeau wants you to stay home tomorrow. Justin Trudeau wants you to vote PPC,” O’Toole told supporters on Sunday.
A first indication of the Liberals’ fortunes will come after 7:30 p.m. Eastern Canada Time when the votes in the four Atlantic provinces are counted. The Liberals hold 27 of the 32 seats.
Trudeau has taken a cautious stance in public, avoiding questions about a possible majority.
“I want as many Liberals as possible to be elected across the country because we need a strong government,” he told reporters in Montreal on Sunday. In private, the helpers are less timid.
“You don’t call an election during a pandemic just to get another minority government,” one said.
Associated Australian Press