The federal election in Canada turned out to be as predicted: the Liberals would retain the government but not win a majority.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has won enough seats in this 44th general election to form another minority government — with voters signalling Monday they trust the incumbent to lead Canada through the next phase of the pandemic fight by handing him a third mandate with a strong plurality.
After a 36-day campaign and a $600-million election, the final seat tally doesn’t look very different from the composition of the House of Commons when it was dissolved in early August — prompting even more questions about why a vote was called during a fourth wave of the pandemic in the first place.
As of 2:30 a.m. ET, Liberal candidates were leading or elected in 157 ridings, the exact same number of seats that party won in the 2019 contest.
It’s a reversal of fortunes for Trudeau. He launched this campaign with a sizeable lead in the polls — only to see his support crater days later as many voters expressed anger with his decision to call an election during this health crisis. Two middling debate performances by Trudeau and renewed questions about past scandals also put a Liberal victory in question.
But in the end, voters decided the Liberal team should continue to govern a country that, while battered and bruised by a health crisis, has also fared well on key pandemic metrics like death rates and vaccine coverage.
In his victory speech in Montreal in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Trudeau said the result suggests Canadians are “sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic and to brighter days ahead.
“The moment we face demands real, important change, and you have given this Parliament and this government clear direction.”
After a divisive campaign that saw a great deal of partisan sniping, Trudeau struck a more conciliatory tone on election night when he spoke directly to opposition leaders and those who didn’t vote for a Liberal candidate.
“I hear you when you say you just want to get back to the things you love and not worry about this pandemic or about an election,” he said. “Your members of Parliament of all stripes will have your back in this crisis and beyond. Canadians are able to get around any obstacle and that is exactly what we will continue to do.”
So basically Mr. Trudeau broke even. That’s better than getting a nasty surprise, and he’s got at least another five years to make it work.