Big win for Canadian Liberals relegates Tories to opposition

Prime minister-elect pledges sweeping policy changes on drug laws and refugees

Canada's prime minister-elect, Justin Trudeau, fresh from Monday's decisive electoral victory, will have his work cut out for him when it comes to implementing his ambitious policy agenda.

Mr Trudeau (43) and his team set the bar high in their campaign platform, promising sweeping policy changes on everything from drug laws (he pledged to legalise marijuana) to the appointment of senators, climate change policy, and relationships with Canada’s Aboriginal population.

Mr Trudeau and his Liberal Party have also committed to increasing and fast-tracking the number of Syrian refugees brought into Canada from 10,000 to 25,000; boosting foreign aid; scrapping Canada's purchase of F-35 fighter jets; and ending the country's combat efforts in the US-led coalition against Islamic State in Iraq.

They have pledged to slash taxes for the middle class while raising them for the wealthiest Canadians, as well as rolling out an infrastructure plan that will put the country into three consecutive deficit budgets.


Variety of reforms

The Liberals’ campaign pledges include a variety of electoral reforms, from eliminating the country’s first-past-the-post electoral system to studying measures such as mandatory voting and online voting.

A tweet sent from Mr Trudeau’s official social media account on election night read simply: “Ready.”

In his victory speech early on Tuesday morning in Montreal, Mr Trudeau said Canadians had spoken loudly in favour of a government “with a vision and an agenda for this country that is positive and ambitious and hopeful”.

"I will make that vision a reality. I will be that prime minister," said Mr Trudeau, the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

The Liberals won a surprise majority, taking about 40 per cent of the popular vote and 184 of 338 parliamentary seats. The party now has representatives in every province.

Conservative defeat

It was a sound defeat for the outgoing Conservative prime minister,

Stephen Harper

, who has been in power since 2006. His party has been relegated to the official opposition benches.

The election was seen in part as a referendum on the leadership of Mr Harper, his austerity economics agenda and his hawkish foreign policy.

And while much of Mr Trudeau’s plan marks a sharp shift from the policies of his predecessor, he is expected to follow through on Mr Harper’s push to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and continue Canada’s support for the proposed Alberta-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline project.

The Liberals have also committed to keeping Mr Harper’s controversial C-51 anti-terror legislation, though with a series of amendments, including bringing in three-year sunset provisions on some of the most contentious parts of the Bill.

Assemble cabinet

Among Mr Trudeau’s first tasks will be to assemble his cabinet, which he promised during the campaign would contain an equal number of men and women.

Mr Trudeau's introduction on the world stage will come in a matter of weeks, with a packed international agenda in November that includes a G20 meeting in Turkey, and an Apec summit in the Philippines, a Commonwealth meeting in Malta, and the upcoming climate change summit in Paris. – (Guardian service)