Featured image courtesy of Reuters
After the longest Canadian election on record, liberal Justin Trudeau has been elected Prime minister of Canada, ending the nine-year rule of Conservative Prime minister Stephen Harper. The liberal party won 184 of the 338 available seats, a dramatic jump from the 2011 results in which the party only won 34 seats. The prime minister is the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and has raised the profile of his party from third in the polls when he came into its leadership to first place on voting day.
Justin Trudeau’s winning campaign won on several key policies which he believes will improve Canada at home and abroad. The first is the bolstering of Canada’s relationship with the US. Under the Conservative Government relations with the US became strained, with one key issue being the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama vetoed the plan due to environmental concerns, which angered Steepen Harper who believed the plan would benefit both countries and create jobs for Canadians. While Trudeau also supports Keystone, he believes that working with the US to address concerns will build a constructive and positive relationship between both countries.
Trudeau also plans to run a short-term deficit in order to double national spending on infrastructure, a plan that his party believes will boost the Canadian economy through job creation and investment. Marijuana legalisation is also a priority for the new government, with Trudeau claiming that work will start ‘right away’ to see it legalised. Trudeau has also said that he will raise taxes on Canadian citizens making over $200,000 a year and lower taxes for the middle class.
Despite serving for nearly 10 years, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a number of choices which lead to his downfall in recent years. The main economic message of the conservative party was of low taxes and austerity in order to balance the books. Harper claimed in his campaign that Canada had been able to ride out the global economic downturn, but Trudeau focused on the reality of people’s lives, promising to combat rising house prices and stagnant wages. By misreading the public opinion on Austerity and infrastructure spending Harper played into Trudeau’s hands. In addition to this, harper appeared to be mean spirited compared to young liberal Trudeau. The conservative leader’s hard-line stance on Syrian refugees and his opposition to the wearing of the niqab turned many mid ground voters towards the seemingly ‘nicer’ politics of Trudeau.
Trudeau won the election by promising voters a very different kind of Canada. In his victory speech Trudeau said that Canada had returned to the ‘world stage’ and addressing supporters alternately in French and English said ‘This afternoon we can celebrate but the work is only beginning’. His policies on infrastructure spending may divide many Canadians, but it is undeniable that the election results will have a lasting impact on Canada and the World.