Trudeau's Liberals win Canada vote

Despite reelection, the party has lost its majority

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won a second term in Canada's national elections Monday, losing the majority but delivering unexpectedly strong results despite having been weakened by a series of scandals that tarnished his image as a liberal icon.

According to television projections as of 2am Tuesday (0600 GMT) the Liberals has become winners or has been declared leading in 157 of the nation's 338 electoral districts or 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons. Trudeau's main rival Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives won, on the other hand 122. This means that as early as Tuesday, Trudeau will have to form an alliance with one or more smaller parties in order to govern a fractured nation. The first test of his future government will follow in the coming weeks with a speech to parliament outlining his legislative priorities and a confidence vote.

"From coast to coast to coast, tonight Canadians rejected division and negativity," Trudeau said early Tuesday. "And they rejected cuts and austerity and voted in favour of a progressive agenda and strong action on climate change."

He also reassured Quebec that his Liberal government, despite an electoral setback in the French-speaking province, "will be there for you."

The 47-year-old former school teacher dominated Canadian politics over the four years of his first term, but faced a grilling during the 40-day election campaign, which he described as one of the "dirtiest and nastiest" in Canadian history. Going into the election Trudeau's golden boy image had already been damaged by ethics lapses in the handling of the bribery prosecution of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. His popularity took a further hit with the emergence during the campaign of old photographs of him in blackface makeup. At one rally, the prime minister was even forced to wear a bulletproof vest due to a security threat.

Scheer, only two years after winning the leadership of his party, struggled to win over Canadians with his bland minivan-driving dad persona and a throwback to the thrifty policies of past Tory administrations.

"Canada is a country that is further divided," he said in his concession speech, warning that country's oil sector, the fourth largest in the world but struggling with low prices and a lack of pipeline capacity, is "under attack."

"We have put him (Trudeau) on notice, his leadership is damaged and his government will end soon and when that time comes, the Conservatives will be ready and we will win!"

In the meantime, Social democrats and resuscitated Quebec separatists also chipped away at Liberal support. The Bloc Quebecois came back from a ruinous 2015 election result, tapping into lingering Quebec nationalism to take 32 seats, while the New Democratic Party (NDP) won 24 seats, according to projections.

It is now the NDP that Trudeau's Liberals will likely rely on to form a new government and pass legislation. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh even said early Tuesday he had congratulated Trudeau and vowed to play a constructive role in Parliament.

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