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Justin Trudeau’s grip on power threatened as Canadians go to the polls

Surveys indicate that Mr Trudeau’s Liberal Party could lose to the rival Conservatives.

A voter heads to cast their vote in Canada’s federal election at the Fairbanks Interpretation Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP/PA)
A voter heads to cast their vote in Canada’s federal election at the Fairbanks Interpretation Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP/PA)

By Rob Gillies, Associated Press

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced the threat of being knocked from power after one term as the nation held parliamentary elections on Monday.

The 47-year-old channelled the star power of his father – the liberal icon and late prime minister Pierre Trudeau – when he won in 2015 but a combination of scandal and high expectations have damaged his prospects.

Polls indicate Mr Trudeau’s Liberal Party could lose to the rival Conservatives, or perhaps win but still fail to get a majority of seats in Parliament and have to rely on an opposition party to remain in power.

Not in 84 years has a first-term Canadian prime minister with a parliamentary majority lost a bid for re-election.

Mr Trudeau took his wife and three children along as he voted in his district in Montreal.

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Conservative leader Andrew Scheer (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/AP)

He reasserted liberalism in 2015 after almost 10 years of Conservative Party government in Canada, but he is one of the few remaining progressive leaders in the world.

He has been viewed as a beacon for liberals in the Trump era, even appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine under the headline “Why Can’t He Be Our President?”

Perhaps sensing Trudeau is in trouble, Barack Obama made an unprecedented endorsement by a former American president in urging Canadians to re-elect Trudeau and saying the world needs his progressive leadership now.

However, old photos of Mr Trudeau in blackface and brownface surfaced last month, casting doubt on his judgment.

Mr Trudeau also was hurt by a scandal that erupted this year when his former attorney general said he pressured her to halt the prosecution of a Quebec company.

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Justin Trudeau is seen as one of the few remaining progressive leaders in the world (Chris Jackson/PA)

He has said he was standing up for jobs, but the damage gave a boost to the Conservative Party led by Andrew Scheer.

No party is expected to get a majority of Parliament’s 338 seats, so a shaky alliance may be needed to pass legislation.

If Conservatives should win the most seats — but not a majority — they would probably try to form a government with the backing of Quebec’s separatist Bloc Quebecois party. Mr Trudeau’s Liberals would likely rely on the New Democrats to stay in power.

Mr Scheer is a career politician described by those in his own party as bland, a possible antidote for those tired of Mr Trudeau’s flash.

Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier and a close friend of Mr Scheer, calls the Conservative leader “an extremely normal Canadian” who is so nice he “can’t fake being mean”.

PA

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