Justin Trudeau will hang on to his job as Canada’s prime minister in an election victory Monday that fell short of his main objective: tightening his hold on power.
With his Liberals high in the polls, Trudeau plunged the country into an early election in August in hopes the party could gain at least 15 additional seats in the House of Commons to turn his incumbent minority into a far more powerful majority.
Instead, Trudeau returns to the Prime Minister’s Office with roughly the same number of seats his Liberals had when he called the summertime snap election.
“I hear you when you say that you just want to get back to the things you love and not worry about this pandemic or about an election,” Trudeau said in Montreal as he delivered his victory speech. “The moment we face demands real important change. And you have given this Parliament and this government clear direction,” as reported by POLITICO.
Some will say the 49-year-old prime minister lost his election gamble. Others would argue that a win is a win.
The small margin of victory means Trudeau will continue to have to work with opposition parties to pass legislation and to keep his government afloat.
When Trudeau triggered the election last month, opinion polls suggested his Liberals were within reach of recapturing the majority.
Trudeau proved to be more vulnerable than expected.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole stood between Trudeau and the majority.
“Five weeks ago, Mr. Trudeau asked for a majority — he said the minority Parliament was, quote, ‘unworkable,'” O’Toole said in his concession speech at his election-night headquarters in suburban Toronto. “But tonight Canadians did not give Mr. Trudeau the majority mandate he wanted.”
O’Toole outperformed the low expectations set for him at the campaign’s outset, especially for a politician who, unlike the Liberal leader, was far from a household name.
In his speech, O’Toole said he wanted to lead the Conservatives into the next election campaign whenever it comes. But without a significant improvement in the party’s seat count, he may struggle to keep his job.
The Conservatives, with the second-most seats, will remain as Canada’s official Opposition. Early Tuesday morning, they were also on track to win the popular vote.
Trudeau triggered the election the day the Taliban entered Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul — and he was grilled on the decision to launch the campaign with the Central Asian country in crisis. Covid was spiking in some provinces, wildfires were burning in British Columbia and the U.S. land border was closed to Canadians.