Justin Trudeau’s fate as Prime Minister poised as Canada goes to the polls | Best countries

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We could forgive Justin Trudeau for believing he is unlucky with the timing. Less than two months ago, the Canadian Prime Minister led the polls. So in mid-August he called for a new early federal election, two years ahead of schedule, with the belief that he could turn that public support into a straight majority victory for his Liberal Party and not count. on the other parties of a coalition.

But as he called for a new federal election, a new wave of infections began to sweep across Canada. And the day of the election announcement, August 15, coincided with the Taliban takeover of the Afghan capital Kabul, an event that subsequently made headlines. Canadian military forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, but Afghans who supported the country’s military and diplomatic efforts remained behind.

Suddenly, Trudeau came under fierce criticism on two fronts: for failing to act quickly enough to evacuate Afghan support staff and for holding a costly national election amid a new wave of COVID-19 cases .

As Canadians vote today, polls show a virtual dead heat between Trudeau and Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole. With a significant number of undecided voters – the last vote showed that one in eight Canadian voters had not decided among the party’s top five candidates – observers are reluctant to predict an outright winner.

“There was no voting question that neither party was able to put together successfully,” (which resonates with voters), says Duane Bratt, professor of political science at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

Voters will decide 338 seats in the House of Commons of Parliament, which in turn will decide the next prime minister, a process similar to the US public vote for members of the US House of Representatives, where the majority party chooses the Speaker of the House.

Trudeau, 49, made international headlines when he became Prime Minister. Son of the flamboyant late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, much of early international reporting hailed Justin as a rising star, the public face of a young and progressive Canada. His first cabinet was ethnically diverse and featured an equal number of women and men – a first in Canadian history. But Trudeau has since faced various scandals of corruption and ethics violations. Perhaps the most damaging personally was the 2019 revelation that he wore a blackface at a party while working as a 29-year-old teacher at a private school in Vancouver. And the female members of the Trudeau cabinet have since resigned, moving criticism on the sincerity of the Prime Minister in valuing the opinions of strong women.

Analysts say few problems separate Trudeau and O’Toole, 48. The management of the pandemic is the main concern of the public, but the debates in the two national languages ​​of English and French did not make it possible to distinguish the candidates. Trudeau has sought to make vaccination warrants a wedge issue between himself and O’Toole, who while encouraging vaccinations, says he won’t need them.

Perhaps it is the social sensitivities of Canadians that tip the vote.

“Canada, fundamentally, is a much more progressive country than the United States, Bratt says. “And so if the polls are tied, that tells me the Liberals have a slight lead, but no one gets a majority government.”

This scenario makes the other candidates potentially very powerful kingmakers if they win enough votes to forge a majority of public support with the ruling party.

Jagmeet Singh leads the left-wing New Democrats, or NDP, which are currently third in the polls. Singh, a practicing 42-year-old Sikh, is the first non-white figure to lead a major national party in Canada. Annamie Paul, 48, is the first black and Jewish woman to lead a major Canadian party. Yves-François Blanchet, 56, heads the separatist Bloc Québécois party, which presents candidates only in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec. A sixth candidate, Maxine Bernier, 58, leads the far-right People’s Party of Canada, a party formed in 2018 that formally opposes coronavirus lockdown measures such as mandatory vaccinations and mask warrants. Popular support for this party varies between 5% and 10%.

Singh wants $ 200 billion in addition to current government spending to manage the pandemic. He also wants national drug and dental insurance programs, and promises a wealth tax.

“He could very well determine who becomes prime minister,” said Bratt. “And that’s, I think, what we’re going to boil down to: the role Jagmeet Singh is going to play.”

No matter who wins, little change is expected in Canada’s foreign policy. If O’Toole wins, political observers say Canada may join the US and Australia in banning Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, but even that is uncertain.

“Overall, we have a consensual foreign policy, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Liberal (government) or a Conservative,” Bratt said. “Even Justin Trudeau, with all his selfies and glamor in the first two years after becoming prime minister, if you really look at the policies, they were very similar to what (predecessor to the Tory Prime Minister) Stephen Harper was doing on trade and Security. “


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