A brownface scandal, corruption accusations, and a penchant for being dressed in more ethnic wear than whatever ethnic group he may be honouring were not enough to defeat Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. However, Trudeau’s dashing good looks were not enough to keep a majority for his Liberal party, which lost more than 30 seats and its majority in Parliament. Liberals retained 157 seats on Monday, down from the 184 seats they secured in 2015. Canada requires a party to hold at least 170 seats for a majority. Liberal politicians and voters can, however, take some consolation in the fact that the New Democratic Party (NDP), which is even farther left than the liberals, will almost certainly support them, even if it is unlikely to formally join a coalition government. The NDP itself did not have a good day, losing 22 of the 44 seats it had previously held. The NDP will likely back Trudeau if he agrees with their strong positions on climate change, raising wealth taxes on the uber-rich, and affordable housing. In most cases, the Liberals would probably be able to get on the same page as the NDP without offending their own base, and vice versa. Overall, however, the liberals will have to move further left to maintain NDP support.
Trudeau’s victory speech was highly optimistic. “From coast to coast, Canadians rejected division and negativity... they rejected cuts and austerity and they voted in favour of a progressive agenda and strong action on climate change.” Meanwhile, Conservatives in the less populous but oil-rich western provinces even started calling for a ‘Wexit’, aghast at the prospect of another four years under a government that doesn’t want to poison young children with fossil fuels. Also heartening was the fact that the xenophobic far-right People’s Party of Canada, despite fielding a full slate of candidates, did not win even a single seat. Clearly, the real winners in Canada were progressives.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2019.
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