Canada elects Parliament in vote seen as threat to Trudeau

Trudeau's Liberals need to align themselves with the New Democrats to stay in power

CANADA-ELECTION/ Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer take part in the Federal leaders French language debate in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada | Reuters

The 47-year-old Trudeau channelled the star power of his father, the liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau when he won in 2015 but a combination of scandal and high expectations have damaged his prospects thie time around. As Canada goes to vote on Monday, it could mean the end of being in the seat of power for Trudeau. Post tight election campaigning by the Liberal and Conservative parties, polls reveal that Trudeau's Liberal Party could lose to the rival Conservatives, or perhaps win but still fail to get a majority of seats in Parliament and may have to rely on an opposition party to remain in power.

Conservative supporters, at a rally on Saturday, chanted "Lock him up! Lock him up!"—  mirroring the Hillary Clinton "Lock her up!" chant at Donald Trump rallies after candidate Andrew Scheer said he would investigate Trudeau's attorney general scandal. Scheer moved to calm the crowd and changed the chant to "Vote him out." Trudeau embraced immigration at a time when the US and other countries are closing their doors, and he legalized cannabis nationwide. 

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

Trudeau, who reasserted liberalism in 2015 after almost 10 years of Conservative Party government in Canada is one of the few remaining progressive leaders in the world. Old photos of Trudeau in blackface and brownface surfaced last month, casting doubt on his judgement.

Trudeau also was hurt by a scandal that erupted this year when his former attorney general said he pressured her to halt the prosecution of a Quebec company. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs, but the damage gave a boost to the Conservative Party led by Andrew Scheer.

 He has been viewed as a beacon for liberals in the Trump era, even appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine under the headline 'Why Can't He Be Our President?' Former US President Barack Obama, perhaps sensing Trudeau is in trouble, made an unprecedented endorsement and urged Canadians to re-elect Trudeau. 

According to polls, a coalition government could be the outcome, led either by the Liberals or the Conservatives. The polls show that both Conservatives and Liberals have about 31-32 per cent support. The smaller New Democratic Party (NDP), Green Party and Bloc Quebecois have continued to chip away at the frontrunners' lead.

Trudeau's Liberals need to align themselves with the New Democrats being led by Jagmeet Singh to stay in power.

"We need a strong, progressive government that will unite Canadians and fight climate change, not a progressive opposition," Trudeau said at a rally in a suburb of Vancouver.

Scheer is a career politician described by those in his party as bland, a possible antidote for those tired of Trudeau's flash. Jason Kenney, Alberta's premier and a close friend of Scheer, calls the Conservative leader “an extremely normal Canadian” who is so nice he “can't fake being mean.” On Scheer, relentlessly attacking Trudeau while campaigning, Nik Nanos, a Canadian pollster, said he hasn't been himself.