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Roving Periscope: After key poll outcome, Poilievere challenges Trudeau to order snap poll in Canada

Roving Periscope: After key poll outcome, Poilievere challenges Trudeau to order snap poll in Canada

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Ahead of next year’s federal elections, Canada’s ruling Liberal Party, headed by its controversial Prime Minister Justine Trudeau, suffered a major setback on Tuesday when it lost a special poll in the Toronto-St Paul’s district, a stronghold of his party since 1993, prompting his chief rival Pierre Poilievere to seek snap parliamentary polls.

The outcome is expected to sting Trudeau, whose party is being viewed as a heavy loser to the Conservatives in 2025, the media reported.

This special poll has raised serious doubts about Trudeau’s leadership as his North American country goes to elect 338 members in the lower chamber of parliament, the House of Commons, in 2025.

Conservative candidate Don Stewart wrested the seat from the Liberals by nearly 600 votes, according to Election Canada.

Stewart won 42.1 percent of the vote vis-à-vis Liberal candidate Leslie Church’s 40.5 percent with all 192 polling stations reporting the results of Monday’s voting.

“Justin’s position is seriously weakened inside the party,” said Canadian historian Robert Bothwell, adding that some members of the ruling party have just left the government rather than publicly grumble. Bringing ministers down and mobilizing even office staff from Ottawa signaled desperation on Trudeau’s part, he said.

Leslie Church said voters “sent us a clear message, that they want us to re-earn their trust.” She said the party has 16 months until the next election and that she will run again. “We heard from many people who were having a hard time,” she added.

The incumbent PM Trudeau, 52, has said he intends to lead the party into the next election. The Trudeau Liberals have been in power since 2015 but are trailing badly in the polls amid concerns over the cost of living.
Daniel Beland, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal, said the Conservatives have gained on the political battlefield by blaming Trudeau for the rising cost-of-living crisis.

Enthused with the latest poll outcome, Opposition Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre demanded that the PM call a snap election after the “shocking upset.” “Here is the verdict: Trudeau can’t go on like this. He must call a carbon tax election now,” Poilievre said on social media platform X, (formerly Twitter).

Nelson Wiseman, Professor-Emeritus at the University of Toronto, said the Liberals lost the district not because of a wave of support for Poilievre and his party but because of deepening distaste for Trudeau. “The pressure on Trudeau to announce that he will be stepping down is now insurmountable,” he said, adding that Toronto-St Paul was won by Liberals even when they had their worst performance in 2011.

If the Liberals cannot win this district, Wiseman said, “How can they hope to win a general election?” The already anxious Liberal caucus will now go into a panic mode. He noted the average shelf life of Canadian PMs since the 1950s has been about a decade, which Trudeau will complete next year.

The next federal election must be held by October 2025 and a range of recent polls show the Liberals, who have been in power since November 2015, would lose badly to the Conservatives. The latest loss indicates Liberals in less safe Toronto area seats might be vulnerable, underlining the challenge for Trudeau.

However, Liberals might do better if they replace Trudeau, who has so far insisted he will fight the next election. Names of potential leadership candidates include former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, a close Trudeau friend.

But party leaders in Canada are chosen by special conventions which are held on fixed dates, which makes it almost impossible to ditch a leader who does not want to leave.

Trudeau reasserted Canada’s liberal identity in 2015 after almost 10 years of Conservative rule. His legacy includes opening the doors wide to immigration. He also legalized cannabis and brought in a carbon tax to fight climate change. However, his liberal immigration policy made Canada a haven for gangsters and international terrorists, including the Khalistanis, on whose support he has been running his government and spoiled Canada’s traditionally good relations with India.

Before Justin, his father Pierre Trudeau led the nation for almost 16 years.

Justin’s rivals, the Conservatives, say they have four priorities: axing a carbon tax introduced by the Liberals, addressing the government’s budget deficit, tackling a housing crisis, and cracking down on crime.

Poilievre, who is running for the next PM, has long targeted Trudeau for inflationary taxes, higher mortgage payments, and rising debt.


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