Beleaguered by a brownface scandal, swirling accusations of corruption, and an embarrassing trip abroad, Canada’s Justin Trudeau clung to power after Monday’s election, remaining prime minister even as his Liberal party lost at least 30 seats and its majority in Parliament.
Liberals retained 157 seats on Monday, down from the 184 seats they secured in the 2015 election that transformed Trudeau into an international star. The results leave the party 13 seats short of the majority it would need to pass the agenda its members campaigned on, such banning assault weapons and to taking bold action on climate change. Liberals will now have forge a coalition with at least one other party to achieve those goals.
“From coast to coast to coast, Canadians rejected division and negativity,” a triumphant Trudeau told supporters in Montreal early Tuesday. “They rejected cuts and austerity and they voted in favor of a progressive agenda and strong action on climate change.”
The Liberals’ poor showing Monday is a consolation for the New Democratic Party. The left-wing party lost 22 of the 44 seats it had held, but it may retain some power as it’s now the Liberals’ most likely partner in Parliament. While NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh insisted his focus was “not on a coalition,” he also expressed a willingness to work with Trudeau if they can reach agreement on climate change, interest-free student loans, affordable housing and raising taxes on the “ultra-rich.”
On Twitter, Trudeau’s narrow victory was met with calls for a ‘Wexit’ as restive Conservatives in Western provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where Andrew Scheer’s party had a strong showing, floated the idea of seceding from Canada.
Western secession might be an oilpatch pipedream, but a resurgent Bloc Québécois saw big electoral gains on Monday. Yves-François Blanchet’s sovereignist party managed to steal seats from the Liberals and successfully fend off Conservative challenges, for a total of 32 seats in Parliament, up from 10 in 2015.
Trudeau, who appointed a diverse cabinet, legalized marijuana, welcomed thousands of Syrian refugees, introduced a carbon tax, and occasionally tangled with President Trump on tariffs, received the U.S. president’s congratulations Tuesday “on a wonderful and hard fought victory.”