MONTREAL: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday (Sep 21) acknowledged he will need to work with other parties after he fell short of winning a majority in parliamentary elections, leaving him once more dependent on opposition legislators to govern.
Trudeau, 49, was re-elected to a third term late Monday after calling a vote two years early, hoping for approval of his free-spending response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2019 he had been working with a minority, forced to make deals with other parties to push through legislation.
But provisional results showed virtually no change from the 2019 election, delivering up another minority and begging the question of why Trudeau had called a vote that the official opposition Conservative Party portrayed as a cynical power grab.
Trudeau, in power since 2015, said he had a clear mandate to continue the path to recovery. He will once again rely on the support of the smaller left-leaning New Democrats to govern.
"You have given this Parliament and this government clear directions," he told supporters in Montreal. Just hours later, he greeted supporters outside a metro station in his constituency, continuing a post-election tradition.
Throughout the campaign, Trudeau promised tens of billions of dollars in new investments, partially offset by new revenues.
The re-elected Liberals were likely to press on a with a modest loosening of fiscal policy, said Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics.
"This raises the likelihood that the budget deficit will remain wider in the coming years than the Liberals' costed platforms implies, particularly as the party remains reliant on the NDP to pass policy," said Brown in a note.
The Canadian dollar gave back earlier gains, touching 1.2825 to the greenback, or 77.97 US cents.
Provisional results showed the Liberals ahead in 158 constituencies, known as ridings, short of the 170 Trudeau needed to control the 338-seat House of Commons. The Conservatives were on 119 with the New Democrats on 25.
"The message Canadians are sending loud and clear is they like the direction the government is taking the country in but they're not quite sure they want to give anybody carte blanche," former close Trudeau advisor Gerry Butts told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Around 850,000 mail-in ballots will be counted on Tuesday, which could affect the final tally in some seats.
The result is a blow to the right-leaning Conservatives, whose leader Erin O'Toole had tried to take a more centrist approach to attract progressive voters.
For the second election in a row the party won a larger share of the popular vote than the Liberals, who nevertheless triumphed with their lock on major urban centers.
O'Toole, who said he was sure Trudeau plans to call another election within two years, said he had called the Liberal leader and challenged him to put the unity of Canada first.
"I told him if he thinks he can threaten Canadians with another election in 18 months, the Conservative Party will be ready," he told supporters in his home town of Oshawa, east of Toronto.
O'Toole was due to give a news conference on Tuesday at 4pm ET (2000 GMT).
Ontario premier Doug Ford, a Progressive Conservative, congratulated Trudeau on his win on Tuesday, pledging to work closely with the prime minister, while also urging unity across the political spectrum.