Date
19 November 2019
Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his son and his daughter, votes in the federal election in Montreal, Canada on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Justin Trudeau, accompanied by his son and his daughter, votes in the federal election in Montreal, Canada on Monday. Photo: Reuters

First polls close in Canada as Trudeau tries to hold power

Canadians were voting on Monday to determine whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who swept into office four years ago as a charismatic figure promising “sunny ways,” will remain in power after two major scandals.

The first polls in what is considered a neck-and-neck race between Trudeau’s Liberals and the main opposition Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer closed in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador at 7 pm EDT (2300 GMT).

The voting is scheduled to end in the Pacific Coast province of British Columbia at 10 pm EDT (0200 GMT on Tuesday)

Trudeau, 47, the Liberal Party leader, was endorsed by former US President Barack Obama in the final stretch of the campaign and is viewed as one of the last remaining progressive leaders among the world’s major democracies.

But he was shaken during the campaign by a blackface scandal and has been dogged by criticism of his handling of a corruption case involving a major Canadian construction company.

Trudeau, the son of the late Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has also had to overcome a sense of fatigue with his government.

Trudeau, accompanied by his family, voted in Montreal on Monday after a marathon sprint campaigning across the country in the past four days. Scheer voted in his Saskatchewan electoral district.

On Twitter, he repeatedly urged people to get out and vote. Voter turnout is crucial for the Liberals, who privately fear low engagement will affect them more than the Conservatives.

A year ago, no one would have predicted that Trudeau risked becoming the first prime minister since the 1930s to secure a parliamentary majority and then fail to win a second term.

The latest opinion polls suggest he may narrowly avert that result and could win a minority in the 338-seat House of Commons.

That would still leave him in a weakened position and needing the support of left-leaning opposition parties to push through key pieces of legislation. Reuters

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