After a hard-fought 40-day campaign, Canadian voters have returned Justin Trudeau to again lead their nation — but he does so with a far-reduced majority and his Liberal party will have to navigate the next four years in Ottawa relying on the support of smaller left-leaning parties.
The challenge now for Trudeau is to learn the art of governing from a minority position, one that will require listening to opposition voices and reconciling dissenting voices within his party and across the vast nation.
Four years ago, Canadians were enthralled by the fresh-faced scion of former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, embracing Justin’s Instagram approach to their politics, viewing him as a very Canadian antidote to the tides of populist division that had swept through the political establishments and took root in North America and Europe.
The past four years, however, saw him lose that lustre: his party involved in internal divisions; his standing diminished through photographs of blackfaced insensitivity; his political judgement rebuked for his willingness to side with SNC-Lavellin, a huge Quebec-based construction company accused of playing fast and loose with business practices.
Speaking in Montreal as the election results became clearer, Trudeau said that he had heard Canadians and acknowledged that the Liberal party would need to listen more in the coming years
This past federal election campaign had not been easy for the 47-year-old father of three, with many Canadians viewing it as a referendum on his leadership, with the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer the only real alternative to forming a national government.
Trudeau, who narrowly passed that test, has fallen some 15 seats short of the required 170 for a majority. He will now most likely have to seek the support of Jagmeet Singh and his New Democrats.
Singh’s party fell a dozen or seats short of the 37 they held heading into the campaign but his personal standing and optimism struck a chord with voters, warmed by his clarity on the environment.
Speaking in Montreal as the election results became clearer, Trudeau said that he had heard Canadians and acknowledged that the Liberal party would need to listen more in the coming years.
For many Canadians, the primary issue of concern was that of climate change and electing a government that would take decisive action in lowering emissions.
Voters supported the green credentials of the mainstream Liberals and NDP and together they will need to find the way forward on environmental policies.
That was point also acknowledged by Trudeau in Montreal in the early hours of Tuesday. Now, he returns to Ottawa chastened and to walk a path of reconciliation.