Canadians Head to the Polls in Mandate of PM Justin Trudeau

Canadians will elect a new Parliament on Monday after a tight election campaign that has threatened to oust the Liberal government after only one term.                                               

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 47, won a definitive parliamentary majority in 2015, leading the first Liberal government in 10 years. During his term, he has become a champion of liberals worldwide for his support of free trade, diversity, environmental policies and taking an active role on the world stage.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama made an unprecedented endorsement of Trudeau in an Oct. 16 tweet, urging Canadians to reelect the weakened prime minister.

"The world needs his progressive leadership," Obama said.

But the endorsement may not be enough to change Canadians’ minds about Trudeau’s recent scandals.

At least three photographs of Trudeau in blackface and brown face from the 1990s and early 2000s have surfaced, causing controversy.

In an Oct. 8 debate, Conservative Party opponent Andrew Scheer called the prime minister a fraud.

"(Trudeau) can’t even remember how many times he put blackface on, because the fact of the matter is, he’s always wearing a mask," Scheer said.

In another scandal, Trudeau's former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, said he pressured her to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalian, a Quebec engineering company, under bribery charges. The firm was formally charged with corruption for paying Libyan government officials, including former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, millions of dollars for contracts between 2001 and 2011.

Wilson-Raybould said she resigned because of the pressure, and continued to receive "veiled threats" from a government official after her resignation.

Trudeau said he was standing up for jobs, but the scandals have benefited Scheer’s campaign.

Conservative supporters chanted "Lock him up! Lock him up!'' at a rally Saturday after Scheer said he would investigate the possible corruption. He changed the chant to "Vote him out.''

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

A governing majority would need to win 170 of 338 seats. Liberals held 177 seats before the election.

The party that wins the most seats but not a majority can still form a minority government with a smaller party. 

If Conservatives win the most seats and fail to win a majority, they would probably try to form a government with the backing of Quebec's separatist Bloc Quebecois Party. Trudeau would likely rely on the progressive New Democrats to form a coalition government.

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

by via Voice of America - English


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