US & World

Trudeau elected Canada's prime minister as liberals assume power

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives a victory speech in Montreal, Quebec, after winning a stunning upset over Stephen Harper in Canada's federal election Monday.
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives a victory speech in Montreal, Quebec, after winning a stunning upset over Stephen Harper in Canada's federal election Monday.
Chris Wattie/Reuters /Landov

Canada's Liberal Party won a decisive majority of parliamentary seats Monday, ending nearly a decade of Conservative Party rule. Voters gave Liberals nearly 40 percent of the overall vote compared to the Conservative's 32 percent. The left-leaning New Democrats had just over 19 percent of the vote.

Justin Trudeau, a 43-year-old former high school teacher and son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, assumes the office his father held from 1968 through 1984 with a short interruption.

The youthful Trudeau ran an election that was optimistic in tone, which he said led to his victory.

"We beat fear with hope," he said. "We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together. Most of all we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less."

The Associated Press notes the election results could strengthen ties between Canada and the U.S., at least for the remainder of the Obama administration:

(Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen) Harper was frustrated by Obama's reluctance to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas and clashed with the president on other issues, including the Iran nuclear deal. Although Trudeau supports the Keystone pipeline, he argues relations should not hinge on the project.

Conservative Stephen Harper was one of the longest-serving Western leaders. Reporter Dan Karpenchuk in Toronto reports on his loss:

In Calgary Stephen Harper spoke to a stunned crowd of supporters, saying it was an honor to serve as prime minister for ten years. His Conservative Party suffered a crushing defeat and has been relegated to official opposition in the Canadian Parliament. Harper did not announce his resignation, but a party statement said the Conservative caucus will be instructed to select an interim leader.

Trudeau's election gives Canada an approximation of a political dynasty. His father, also a Liberal, often drew comparisons with President John F. Kennedy. Justin Trudeau was born while his father was serving in office – in fact more than 40 years ago, then-President Richard Nixon predicted the four-month-old Trudeau's future:

"Tonight we'll dispense with the formalities," he said at a state dinner in Ottawa. "I'd like to toast the future prime minister of Canada: to Justin Pierre Trudeau."

A "Liberal wave"

Canadian news outlets are calling it a "Liberal wave."

Celebrating his victory, Trudeau, 43, touted "sunny ways" to a boisterous crowd in Montreal, a reference to his insistence on running a positive campaign. His critics had said Trudeau wasn't experienced enough to lead Canada.

"We beat fear with hope," Trudeau said after the win, according to the CBC. "We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together."

Under Canada's parliamentary system, the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons is anointed prime minister. On Monday, the Liberal Party took more than half the seats — 184 out of 338.

From Toronto, Dan Karpenchuk reports about the federal election results for NPR:

The Liberals captured more than four times the seats they held before Parliament was dissolved, sweeping the Atlantic provinces and all the seats in Toronto.

The Conservatives under Stephen Harper were crushed, winning only 99 seats. Harper conceded defeat, and a statement from the party said he would be stepping down as leader. The New Democratic Party ran third with 44 seats, the separatist Bloc Quebecois took 10, and the Green Party one.

The Globe and Mail reports that for the Liberals, "The result signals a vast reversal of fortunes for a party that was all but written off after winning just 34 seats in the past election."

In Calgary, where Harper won re-election to his parliamentary seat despite his party's overall loss, The Calgary Herald says that before the Liberal Party's upset, "You could sense it coming like some rogue Atlantic wave that gathered power across the country and finally crashed into the Pacific."

The newspaper adds, "It was an abrupt end to one of the most successful runs of any prime minister in a generation. If Harper's habitual style is any guide, he'll now give the voters what so many seemed to want, and quickly vanish from public view."

As for how the results might affect America's relations with Canada, Alexandra Starr wrote for NPR's The Two-Way on Monday:

Canada is our biggest trading partner. And a switch from the conservatives to the liberals could have a pronounced effect on Canada's energy policies. Harper hails from the oil-rich province of Alberta, which has been dubbed Canada's Texas. Under his leadership, the country withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, the world's legally binding plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions. He has also been a strong backer of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from Alberta into the U.S. While Trudeau is also a supporter of Keystone, he has said Canada needs to regulate its carbon emissions.

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