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Red tide: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals cruise to majority government

Michael Talbot | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2015

The Conservatives said he’s “just not ready” but a nation vehemently declared otherwise on Monday night, vaulting Justin Trudeau’s Liberals from third party status to a majority government — the first time such a dramatic leap has been seen in Canadian politics.

“This is what positive politics can do,” a beaming Trudeau said during a spirited victory speech. “This is what a hopeful vision and a platform and a team together can make happen.

“Canadians from all across this great country sent a clear message tonight — it’s time for a change…a real change.”

The Tories will form the official Opposition, but Stephen Harper won’t be at the helm. The Canadian Press is reporting that Harper will step down as party leader, but will stay on as an MP for Calgary Heritage.

“We gave everything we have to give and we have no regrets whatsoever,” Harper told his disappointed supporters in Calgary.

“The people are never wrong. The people of Canada have elected a Liberal government, a result we accept without hesitation.”

The tone was set early Monday when the Liberals tore through Atlantic Canada, unceremoniously unseating several Conservative incumbents.

The red tide then began creeping across the country, with the Liberals gaining significant ground in Ontario and Quebec.

Trudeau’s victory brought a merciful close to a grueling and costly 78-day election that gave party leaders and hopeful MPs plenty of time to alienate or appeal to voters.

For weeks the airwaves were peppered with attack ads and party leaders squared off in five debates that touched on a range of topics, from the niqab and Syrian refugees, to pensions and public infrastructure.

The NDP watched a promising start fizzle. They were in the lead when the election began on August 2, but Thomas Mulcair failed to build on the early momentum and as summer faded, so did hopes for an orange crush.

Mulcair, who was re-elected in his riding of Outremont, was the first party leader to address his supporters after the results were in.

“I could not be prouder of the work that was accomplished,” he said. “We ran in this election with the most women and the most indigenous candidates…in the history of Canada. This is something that makes me immensely proud.”

“Tonight we have shown that the roots of the NDP continue to develop…The next chapter begins in our effort to build a better Canada.”

Late opinion polls had the NDP falling into a distant third and that’s where they remained while Trudeau soared.

His lead proved insurmountable and decades after his famous father, Pierre, stepped down as Prime Minister in 1984, a Trudeau would once again call 24 Sussex Drive home.

Campaign Roller Coaster:

Harper’s quest to become the first Prime Minister since Sir Wilfrid Laurier to win four consecutive mandates got off to a rocky start and ended in ignominious fashion.

Ten days after the election began, his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, took the stand at the criminal trial of Sen. Mike Duffy.

The Senate expense scandal dogged the Conservative leader, who was inundated with questions about the ongoing drama that roused the public’s anger and provided plenty of ammunition for his opponents.

As the trial got underway, Trudeau seized the opportunity to further bludgeon his rival, saying Harper “turned Ottawa into a partisan swamp.”

“He has led the most secretive, divisive and hyper-partisan government in Canada’s history,” he said.

But the Liberal leader would soon be on the receiving end after his campaign co-chair, Dan Gagnier, resigned in light of a report that said he sent lobbying advice about a controversial pipeline to officials at TransCanada Corp.

Just days before voters headed to the polls, Trudeau addressed the sudden controversy.

“He acted in an inappropriate way a few days ago and when we found out about it, we sat down with him and he chose to do the responsible thing and step down from our campaign…”

Both Harper and Mulcair pounced.

“You can’t trust the Liberals. It’s the same old Liberal party,” Mulcair said.

Harper added: “I think we should all understand that the culture of the Liberal party that gave us the sponsorship scandal has not changed and it will not change.”

According to the final opinion polls, Gagnier’s resignation didn’t affect Trudeau’s burgeoning run for Prime Minister, and he was widening his lead.

In a move that many felt reeked of desperation, a reeling Harper hosted the controversial Ford brothers, Rob and Doug, at a Conservative rally in Etobicoke, with Doug taking to the podium.

“God help this country,” he said. “It would be an absolute disaster if Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne were running this country.”

Trudeau, smelling blood, said Harper “should be embarrassed…to count on the support of Rob Ford for his re-election,” and on the last day of the election the Liberal leader confidently strolled into Harper’s turf to woo voters in Alberta.

The Liberals haven’t had an MP in Alberta since Anne McLellan lost her seat in 2006, but with the drastic decline in the once-thriving energy sector, Trudeau sensed a changing tide and made a spirited appeal.

“You deserve a government that doesn’t take your votes for granted, or that assumes it will have your votes because of where you live, and a government that understands that the time to invest in Alberta is now, when people need help.”

The battles and dramas that marked the long trail seemed to inspire voters to action.

More than three and a half million ballots were cast over four days of advanced polling, marking a 71 per cent increase over 2011 when advance polls were open for just three days.

With files from the Canadian Press


  • Jacquie Kirk says:

    While voter turn out is up at 67% – we forgot about seniors. Many of them do not have a drivers license or passport. New OHIP cards no longer have photos. My mother in law was in this situation and we got her a photo ID card from the Ministry of Transportation that enabled her to vote. She talked to me yesterday about the number of seniors who were turned away at her polling station as they did not have photo ID required to cast their vote. Her comment was, “they forgot about seniors”. With all the push on the election – they didn’t include communicating what ID is required to vote. As she said, “seniors read the newspaper and watch TV. There should have been messages on what ID is required and how to get it. I am sure many other seniors were turned away for the same reason across the country.”

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