Liberals lead in early Canada parliamentary election results – USA TODAY
With the first polls closed in Canada’s Atlantic region, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party took an early lead Monday in national parliamentary elections.
The Liberals were expected to nearly sweep the Atlantic region, the Associated Press reported. But early success there isn’t necessarily an indication of how the rest of the results will go. Polls will not close until 9:30 p.m. ET in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Polls in British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast, close at 10 p.m. ET.
Before the election, the governing Conservatives held 13 of Atlantic Canada’s 32 seats and the New Democratic Party held six. In Monday’s early vote counting, Liberals were leading in 30 of the region’s districts.
Voters in Canada had a choice to continue the nearly 10 years of Conservative Party rule under Prime Minister Stephen Harper or turn left under Trudeau, the Liberal Party leader whose late father, Pierre, was an iconic prime minister from 1968 to 1984 (serving most of those 16 years).
Pre-election polls gave an edge to the Liberals, led by Trudeau, 43, over Harper’s Conservative Party. Harper, 56, hoped to win a rare fourth term in the elections to fill 338 seats in Parliament.
The campaign lasting 11 weeks was the country’s longest and most expensive in more than 140 years.
Trudeau had promised to cut taxes for the middle class, raise taxes on the wealthiest 1% and boost government deficits to stimulate Canada’s sluggish economy.
“We have a chance to bring real change to Canada and bring an end to the Harper decade,” Trudeau said Monday in Harper’s adopted home province of Alberta, traditionally a Conservative stronghold, according to the Associated Press.
Trudeau, a former schoolteacher and member of Parliament since 2008, would become the second youngest prime minister in Canadian history.
He has proposed improving relations between Canada and the United States. Harper’s strong stance in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry crude from Alberta to Texas has clashed with President Obama’s reluctance about the project.
Trudeau supports the pipeline but says relations between the two major trading partners should not hinge on one project.
Harper has also clashed with Obama on other issues, including the historic nuclear agreement that the United States and other world powers recently reached with Iran. He has been hawkish on defense, but has been hurt politically by a weak economy this year. Harper tweeted Monday, “Today, I’m asking you to vote Conservative to protect Canadian jobs and our economy,” the AP reported.
Harper has nudged the traditionally center-left country to the right, lowering sales and corporate taxes, avoiding climate change legislation and supporting the oil industry against environmentalists. He campaigned on a promise of ensuring “stability, not risk” and cast Trudeau as “just not ready” for higher office. But Trudeau’s performances in five debates received strong reviews.
As recently as 2011, the Conservatives won 38% of the vote to the Liberals’ 26%, with 19% for the New Democratic Party.
New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair has said he would be willing to work with Trudeau to form a government if no party won a majority of seats.
Canadian election rules allow candidates to win parliamentary districts with a plurality of the vote rather than an outright majority. That makes it possible for a party to win a majority of seats with less than a majority of the national vote.