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Just in: On Trudeau’s return



October 24, 2019 00:02 IST

Updated:


October 24, 2019 00:59 IST



October 24, 2019 00:02 IST

Updated:


October 24, 2019 00:59 IST


more-in

As he leads a minority govt in Canada, Trudeau should be wary of giving up on principles

The re-election in Monday’s federal polls challenges Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pursue the ruling Liberal party’s core agenda on race, refugees, gender and the environment — which secured him his first term in 2015. Despite trailing behind the Conservatives in opinion polls almost until election date, the incumbents have managed to regain voter trust, just enough to retain power. Short of at least 13 seats for a majority of 170 in the House of Commons, he will now depend on broadly left-of-centre parties as he sets out to run a minority government. Among them is the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Jagmeet Singh with 24 seats, down 15, and the Greens with three. Having lost party status in 2015, the Bloc Québécois, rooted in Quebec’s sovereignty movement, has emerged as the third largest. The electoral arithmetic would now compel Mr. Trudeau to focus on building a consensus around common policies, mostly with smaller parties. All the same, as the government would necessarily rely on support, depending on particular issues, the Liberals cannot discount the Conservatives, who command 121 seats and a higher vote share than the Liberals.

Monday’s verdict also affords Mr. Trudeau another chance to rebuild his tarnished domestic record of recent months. His government has made major strides in reducing child poverty, the introduction of a carbon tax and the legalisation of recreational cannabis. On the world stage, his robust defence of globalisation and multilateralism helped ease tensions during the 2018 Group of 7 nations gathering. More concrete were his efforts to renegotiate the regional trade pact with the U.S. and Mexico. Nevertheless, young Canadian voters felt in the poll run-up that Mr. Trudeau had failed to live up to his promise in his 2015 bid of “sunny ways” in politics. The perception grew following accusations that he had interfered with investigations into allegations of corruption by the engineering multinational SNC-Lavalin. Matters were made worse when Jody Wilson-Raybould, the charismatic former Attorney General and Justice Minister, was first shifted and then dropped from the Liberal party. She has now won as an independent. Mr. Trudeau’s defence in the Lavalin case that he was concerned about the risk to Canadian jobs may have struck a chord among trade unions. But that seemingly lopsided logic could have done little good to his gender-inclusive credentials. With their fresh mandate, the Liberals ought to rethink their general stance in order to live down their image as those who all-too-easily sacrifice principles. Leading a minority government, Mr. Trudeau would be aware of the task that lies ahead.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2019 3:00:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/just-in/article29779675.ece

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