Trudeau’s election bet wins most Liberal seats, but no majority

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Christopher Reynolds and Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Posted on Monday, September 20, 2021 at 8:29 p.m. EDT

Last updated Monday, September 20, 2021 at 11:48 p.m. EDT

MONTREAL – Thirty-six days after his fateful decision to send Canadians to the polls, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are on the verge of securing the most seats in the 2021 federal election, but failed to secure the majority.

The Canadian Press predicted that the Liberals were leading in 156 ridings, the Conservatives in 123, the Bloc Québécois in 29, the NDP in 28 and the Greens in two.

The Liberals enjoyed a solid lead Monday night as poll results poured in across the country, with signs of hope emerging in Quebec and Ontario after an uncertain kickoff in Atlantic Canada.

Trudeau won his Montreal riding of Papineau, which he snatched from the Bloc Québécois in 2008 and has kept ever since.

At the Liberal headquarters on election day in downtown Montreal, the hotel ballroom remained empty of supporters even after the general results were announced.

Trudeau lost a minister to Bernadette Jordan after the Liberal government in South Shore – St. The riding of Margarets in Nova Scotia fell to the Conservatives.

Last year, the Fisheries Minister was criticized for her handling of the dispute over Indigenous fishing rights in Nova Scotia when a conflict between commercial fishermen and Mi’kmaq fishermen escalated and made national headlines .

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef was also defeated by a Conservative in Peterborough-Kawartha.

Nonetheless, the Liberals retained all four seats in Prince Edward Island. Cabinet ministers Seamus O’Regan and Dominic LeBlanc also retained their seats in Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick respectively.

Greg MacEachern, Liberal strategist and senior vice president of Proof Strategies, said the mixed success in Atlantic Canada matched the party’s expectations, despite a surprise or two.

“This suggests that the polls have shown things as precise as they are very precise. What’s going to be interesting are the numbers in Ontario,” he said.

Fans would also be “disappointed”, he added, if the party lost Fredericton, a seat they snatched from the Greens in June after convincing Jenica Atwin to move to the Red team.

Trudeau has spent the last few days touring the country – hitting four provinces on Sunday alone – and delivering his latest blitz to Canadians. Over the weekend, the eight-year-old leader touted his party as the only one that could stop Erin O’Toole’s Tories from forming government.

He clashed with leading conservatives on the mandates of vaccines, gun control, climate change and child care, building on the Liberal record on pandemic management and economic recovery.

After returning to Quebec from Vancouver on a red-eyed flight, Trudeau voted Monday in his Montreal riding of Papineau, with his three children by his side and the 44th Canadian election on the verge of ending.

At the Liberal headquarters on election night at a downtown Montreal hotel, Pablo Rodriguez, who was re-elected in Honoré-Mercier, said a second consecutive minority government would mark voter validation.

“Even if it gives me a minority, it’s a mandate,” he said in French, bathed in the red lights of the hotel’s ballroom studio and against a giant screen background bearing the Liberal campaign motto: “Onward. For everyone.”

“In 2019, the word COVID did not exist in our vocabulary … Today, to go a single day without hearing the word – it is impossible,” he said, adding that the election was largely based on the issue of pandemic management.

Rodriguez also insisted that a liberal minority would not mean Trudeau no longer has the confidence of Canadians: “Not at all.”

The campaign got off to a rocky start in August when opposition leaders hammered on Trudeau over his decision to call an election amid a fourth surf wave and the day Kabul fell to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Conservatives stormed out, presenting a detailed election platform – albeit initially unencrypted – on the first full day of the campaign and rushing an increase in their numbers in the polls.

The Liberals struggled to find their place as they fired bullets at O’Toole, looking for corner issues that ranged from the spectrum of two-tier health care to cutting abortion services to screening guns – a shot that may have touched his mark when O’Toole changed his rig on guns.

Trudeau, maintaining a rapid fire pace as he crisscrossed the country, sounded his party’s plan to tackle affordability and inequality with proposals for extended pandemic relief, housing measures and services child care at $ 10 per day.

He also sought to link O’Toole to “anti-vaccine” protesters who harassed his campaign with crass slurs and threatening protests. A rowdy has been slapped with criminal charges after Trudeau was hit with handfuls of gravel as he boarded his country bus in London, Ont.

O’Toole, who has spoken out against the protests and has repeatedly said he encourages all eligible Canadians to get vaccinated, also stopped pledging a vaccine mandate for federal employees, saying those who oppose a vaccine can get regular rapid tests.

In the two French debates earlier this month, Trudeau fought with Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet, who hoped to increase his seat count to 40, from 32 in Quebec, beyond the Liberals’ 35 seats. .

The hottest exchange concerned questions of Quebec’s identity and representation when a lively – sometimes angry – Trudeau turned on Blanchet at the end of the second debate to tell him that he “didn’t have the power. monopoly of Quebec ”.

A threat to Trudeau’s chances on this key battlefield emerged a day later during the English debate when the moderator’s question described two Quebec laws as discriminatory, unworthy of many Quebecers. Blanchet refuted that the issue of systemic discrimination was a “political tool” used to denigrate the province, which gave a boost to the Nationalist Party whose purchase had slipped.

While conventional wisdom held that calling early elections would become a line of attack within days, opposition leaders daily questioned the rationale for sending millions of voters to the polls in the country. amid an undefeated pandemic and a minority government that had largely succeeded in pushing the Liberals on the agenda in Parliament in conjunction with other progressive parties.

Promises to help first-time buyers, extend paid sick leave to 10 days per year, and tighter enforcement of tax laws have raised skeptical questions as to why they were not. implemented over the past six years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 20, 2021.

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