First polls close in Canada as Justin Trudeau looks set to hold onto power – The Telegraph

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Earlier, the political future of Justin Trudeau hung in the balance, but CBC is now  projecting Trudeau Liberals will remain in power, with a minority government.

Liberals are currently leading in 149 seats; Conservatives in 101.

It was the first of six time zones stretching across the country, and voting stations close at different times. About 27.4 million Canadians are eligible to vote.

Polls previously indicated Mr Trudeau’s Liberals, and the Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer, were too close to separate.

Darrell Bricker, an Ipsos pollster, said: “The truth is it’s a coin toss right now.”

Jade Schultz, a voter in Regina, Saskatchewan, said: “What Trudeau’s done the last four years, I think it’s got most of us a little angry, so I just think we need someone new in there.”

But Pat Gill, retiree in Vancouver, said she voted for Mr Trudeau. She said: “I think people know he’s made some mistakes. I’m hoping he’s learned in the last four years. I still think he’s our best bet.”

Andrée Legault, a voter at a polling station in Montreal, said: “I deplored the cheap shots during the campaign. I think we’re better than that.”

Mr Trudeau, 47, son of the late liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, won in 2015, promising “sunny ways”.

But he has recently been mired in two major scandals over his handling of a corruption case involving a major Canadian construction company, and the emergence of old photographs showing him in blackface.

The campaign has been one of the nastiest ever in Canada. At one rally, Trudeau was forced to wear a bulletproof vest. Mr Scheer called Mr Trudeau a “compulsive liar,” and  “a phony and a fraud.”

Anne Lagacé Dawson, a Canadian writer and historian, said the campaign was “disappointing because Justin Trudeau was elected on a wave of youthful enthusiasm” but now “The glow is off the rose.”

She said his his “sunny ways” mantle had been inherited by Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party.

Mr Singh, a turban-wearing Sikh, is the first non-white leader of a national Canadian political party, and could become a kingmaker for Mr Trudeau.

It is probable that no party will win a majority of the 338 seats.

If the Liberals are the largest party they may seek to form a minority government with the backing of the NDP.

Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer arrives with is family Credit: Rex/David Stobbe

Should the Conservatives be the largest party they may seek to govern with Quebec’s separatist Bloc Quebecois party.

During the campaign the Conservatives accused Liberals of wanting to legalise hard drugs, while the Liberals accused the Conservatives of wanting to allow the proliferation of assault weapons.

Mr Trudeau, who has become a figurehead for liberals across the world, was endorsed by former US President Barack Obama.

He defended his record at a final campaign event in British Columbia on Sunday.

Mr Trudeau listed his achievements as a strong economy, low unemployment, free trade deals, the legalistion of cannabis, and resettlement of 60,000 Syrian refugees.

He added: “We need to unite as citizens. We need to unite as a planet.”

Mr Scheer has pledged austerity measures to return to a balanced budget within five years. He would cut government spending, including foreign aid, by 25 per cent, and end a national carbon tax.

In is final rallying call Mr Sheer said: “We can only imagine what the NDP’s price would be to keep Justin Trudeau in power.

“Whatever it is, we know Trudeau would pay any price to stay in power and he’d use your money to do it.”

If he were to lose Mr Trudeau would be the first Canadian prime minister since the 1930s to secure a parliamentary majority and then fail to win a second term.

This article originally appeared here in https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/22/first-polls-close-canada-justin-trudeaus-political-future-knife/

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