Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to overcome a brownface scandal and waning enthusiasm to eke out a victory in the country’s federal election Monday. Trudeau’s Liberal Party sustained heavy losses in what was a referendum on his leadership, seeing its overall vote share drop by nearly 7 points and losing 20 seats in Parliament. Trudeau will form a minority government despite losing the popular vote by a point-and-a-half to the Conservatives, which had heavily concentrated support in Saskatchewan and Alberta, where it won in a near clean sweep. The party was unable to make sufficient inroads elsewhere in the country to translate support into seats.
Trudeau will be forced into a coalition government with the resurgent Bloc Québécois, which picked up 22 seats, or the New Democratic Party, which saw its parliamentary total reduced by 15 seats despite hopes it could capitalize on Trudeau’s missteps. The bruising, often personal campaign carried over even after the voting stopped, with the candidates breaking from the tradition where concession speeches are offered first. Trudeau began his victory speech shortly after Conservative leader Andrew Scheer began his remarks, effectively cutting him off.
“The Liberals, Conservatives and NDP focused the lion’s share of their policy proposals in the campaign on affordability issues, with the parties trying to outdo one another on programs, tax cuts and targeted help for new parents, seniors and post-secondary students in particular,” the Globe and Mail reports. “Other than the Conservatives’ focus on fiscal constraint, the area where the parties showed the clearest differences was on climate change policy. The Conservatives promised to tear up the Liberal climate plan and repeal the federal carbon tax as their first order of business if they formed government, while the other parties promised more ambitious targets.”