Liberals secure stunning victory in Canadian election

Justin Trudeau will be the new prime minister after sweeping defeat for Conservatives

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau wins the Canadian parliamentary election and becomes the next prime minister. Video: Reuters

 

Canada’s Liberal leader Justin Trudeau rode a late campaign surge to a stunning election victory on Monday, toppling prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives with a promise of change and returning a touch of glamour, youth and charisma to Ottawa.

Canada’s major television networks projected the Liberals’ victory and the party was on the cusp of a majority.

While the final vote count was not yet complete, Trudeau’s Liberals were on track to win 174 of Parliament’s 338 seats, according to Elections Canada.

Mr Trudeau (43) the photogenic 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 and unintelligent to govern.

The projected win ends the Conservatives’ nine-year run in power and reflected a political shift away from Mr Harper’s brand of fiscal and cultural conservatism. The Conservatives were projected to become the official opposition in Parliament, with the left-leaning New Democratic Party in third.

Liberal supporters at the party’s campaign headquarters broke into cheers and whistles when television projected that Trudeau would be the next prime minister.

Top Trudeau advisor Gerald Butts tweeted “Amazing work #TeamTrudeau. Breathtaking really”.

At the Conservative election headquarters in Calgary, where Harper is due to speak later, supporters sat quietly, staring at giant TV screens reporting results.

According to the projections, 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.

Crushing defeat

The Conservatives weren’t the only party that appeared headed for a crushing defeat. The third place left-leaning New Democratic Party’s fall was highlighted in Quebec, where it had the majority of its seats.

Radio Canada projected it would end up with just seven seats, down from 54 in the last Parliament.

The Liberals’ win marks a swing toward a more multilateral approach in global politics by the Canadian government, which has distanced itself from the United Nations in recent years.

Mr Trudeau has said he will repair Canada’s cool relations with the Obama administration, withdraw Canada from the combat mission against Islamic State militants in favour of humanitarian aid and training, and tackle climate change.

The former teacher took charge of the party just two years ago and guided it out of the political wilderness with a pledge of economic stimulus and stirring appeals for a return to social liberalism.

Mr Trudeau will become the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history. Criticized for being more style than substance, he has used attacks on his good looks and privileged upbringing to win over voters, who recalled his father’s rock-star presence and an era when Canada had some sizzle on the world stage.

The projected Trudeau victory weakened the Canadian dollar. Financial market players had praised the Conservative government for its steady hand in economic management, which had spared Canada the worst of the global financial malaise.

Reuters