Friday 23 March 2018

Liberals win stunning victory in Canadian federal election

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau shares a moment with his wife Sophie Gregoire as he gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal.
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau shares a moment with his wife Sophie Gregoire as he gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal.

Carol Kearns in Toronto

Canada's Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, has won a stunning election victory and toppled the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, according to vote projection by the nation's major TV networks CTV and CBC.

CBC projected the Liberals would win a majority government. Mr Trudeau's Liberals were on track to win 174 of parliament's 338 seats, according to Elections Canada on Monday.

That means Mr Trudeau is on track to break the record for the biggest gain in seats in an election, which was previously held by the Conservatives, who added 111 seats in the 1984 election. It is the largest percentage increase in seats ever gained by a party in an election.

The landslide win ends the Conservatives' nine-year run in power and reflects a political shift away from Mr Harper's brand of fiscal and cultural conservatism. Mr Harper announced he would resign from the leadership of the Conservative Party following the loss of government.

Greeting supporters at Liberal headquarters in Montreal, Mr Trudeau said: "Canadians from all across this great country sent a clear message tonight, it's time for a change in this country, my friends, a real change."

Speaking in both English and French, he thanked his supporters and attributed the win to "positive politics".

"I hope it is an inspiration to like-minded people to step up and pitch in. To get involved in the public life in this country and to know that a positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life isn't a naive dream, it can be a powerful force for change."

Results from the east of the country were the first to hint at the tidal wave of support for the Liberal Party.

Early results showed the Liberals poised to sweep all 32 seats in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals, who had a total of just 36 seats in Parliament before the election, had been widely expected to pick up some support in eastern Canada but the scale of their victory was unprecedented.

In 2011, the Conservatives won 14 of 32 Atlantic seats, with the centre-left Liberals taking 12 and New Democratic Party six.

"These are not the results we were hoping for in Atlantic Canada," former Conservative Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who resigned in May, said in a television interview.

"The Conservative Party is resilient ... and we'll be around to govern again," Mr MacKay added.

The 11-week campaign was considered too close to call for nearly two months, a virtual tie between the Conservatives, Liberals and left-leaning NDP.

Mr Trudeau, the 43-year-old son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, vaulted from third place to lead the polls in the final days of the campaign, overcoming Conservative attacks that he is too inexperienced to govern.

Mr Trudea has pledged to run small budget deficits and spend on infrastructure to stimulate economic growth, which has been anaemic for years. He has also promised to raise taxes on high-income Canadians and reduce them for the middle class.

The telegenic Mr Trudeau has often drawn large crowds and elicited comparisons to the Kennedy dynasty and the Obama campaign.

A former teacher and snowboard instructor, Mr Trudeau was first elected as an MP in 2008.

Irish Independent

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