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Canadian news outlets are predicting that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party will win a second term in office, but will have to do so as a minority government.
As of late Monday night, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said Trudeau’s Liberals were either elected or leading in 146 of 338 legislative districts, versus just 118 for the Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer. If the results hold, that would leave the Liberals short of the 170 seats needed for a solid working majority. Trudeau would have to form a governing coalition with one or more smaller parties, most likely the progressive New Democrats.
The 47-year-old Trudeau won a definitive parliamentary majority in 2015, leading the first Liberal government in 10 years. During his term, he has become a champion of liberals worldwide for his support of free trade, diversity, environmental policies and taking an active role on the world stage.
But Trudeau’s bid for a second term was threatened by a handful of scandals, both personal and political in nature. At least three photographs of Trudeau in blackface and brown face from the 1990s and early 2000s surfaced just weeks ahead of the vote.
In another scandal, Trudeau’s former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, said he pressured her to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalian, a Quebec engineering company, under bribery charges. The firm was formally charged with corruption for paying Libyan government officials, including former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, millions of dollars for contracts between 2001 and 2011.
Wilson-Raybould said she resigned because of the pressure, and continued to receive “veiled threats” from a government official after her resignation.
Trudeau said he was standing up for jobs, but the scandals have benefited Scheer’s campaign.
Conservative supporters chanted “Lock him up! Lock him up!” at a rally Saturday after Scheer said he would investigate the possible corruption. He changed the chant to “Vote him out.”
If Conservatives win the most seats and fail to win a majority, they would probably try to form a government with the backing of Quebec’s separatist Bloc Quebecois Party.
A first-term Canadian prime minister with a parliamentary majority has not lost a bid for re-election in 84 years.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama made an unprecedented endorsement of Trudeau in an Oct. 16 tweet, urging Canadians to reelect the weakened prime minister.