The Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau on Monday won an decisive majority in Parliament.
According to Elections Canada, the center-left party won 184 electoral districts, followed by the Conservative Party of sitting Prime Minister Stephen Harper with 99, and the leftist New Democratic Party, which won 44.
During his victory speech, Trudeau, the son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, vowed to “be the prime minister of all Canadians.”
“We beat fear with hope. We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together,” he said, referring to the acrimony surrounding the presidential campaign and the negative tact taken by the Conservative Party.
The Liberal Party victory signals an end to Harper’s nearly decade-long reign.
As the Globe and Mail reports, “For Mr. Harper and the Conservatives, the loss comes as a stern repudiation by voters and marks an end to their nearly 10-year hold on power, a polarizing stretch that has seen taxes cut, crime punished more severely, and a more combative role for Canada on the world stage.”
“Is this the end of Harperism?” was the question on everyone’s mind as Canadians flocked to the voting booths on Monday.
With the latest polls showing the Liberal Party led by MP Justin Trudeau expected to win at least a minority government, Canada’s left was tentatively rejoicing over the unseating of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party.
Canada’s national election is reportedly the closest in the country’s history, with a tight race between the Conservatives, the center-left Liberal Party, and progressive New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Tom Mulcair. Polling (pdf) released late Sunday showed the Liberals jumping to a 9-point lead with 39 percent, over the conservatives at 30.5 percent. The NDP had roughly 20 percent of the vote while the Green Party under leader Elizabeth May held at just 4.6 percent.
Though polls won’t close in westernmost province British Columbia until 7:00 PM local time, election updates can be found online under the hashtags #cdnpoli and #elxn42. CBC has this rundown of poll closing times in the other provinces.
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With the competing popularity of the Liberal and NDP parties, and widespread dissatisfaction with the current regime, many on Canada’s left ahead of the vote advocated for strategic voting through various initiatives such as the Vote Together campaign or the ABC (Anything But the Conservatives) movement.
Growing resentment against the Harper government has been attributed largely to this year’s economic recession, which was driven by the country’s reliance on the fossil fuel industry amid falling oil prices. Other recent points of contention have been the Canadian government’s “muzzling” of scientists in public service, attack on civil liberties, and treatment of immigrants, particularly Muslims.
The notion of a minority government derailing Harper’s bid for a fourth term is one championed by, among others, Canadian and notable children’s entertainer Raffi Cavoukian, who tweeted Monday:
In another tweet, Cavoukian ultimately advised Canadians to “vote LOVE. vote HOPE. vote OPTIMISM.”
The Globe and Mail on Sunday rated the likelihood that the Liberal and NDP parties would emerge with a majority together at 98 percent.
And while this may be good news for the many who just want to see a non-Conservative government in Canada, as the Toronto-based labor writer Herman Rosenfeld noted at Jacobin on Monday, the leading opposition party platforms do not go far enough to bring about the substantive change currently needed.
“There aren’t any clear electoral choices that can fundamentally challenge and undo the deep destruction that Harper and those before him wrought,” Rosenfeld wrote.
The Canada-based Indigenous activist group Idle No More also has this assessment of each party’s platform.
Meanwhile, there were some reported issues of voters having trouble accessing the polls, including reports of polling stations not being prepared or opened on time, misinformation on voter information cards, and some polling areas having unusually early closing times.
According to CBC there have “been several reports of people being told that the identification that they had brought with them was not enough to cast a ballot, even in situations when that identification was a driver’s license, which, according to Elections Canada’s website, is sufficient to vote.”
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