Canada Election: Liberals Sweep to Power

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Canada’s Liberal Party has decisively won a general election, ending nearly a decade of Conservative rule.
The centrist Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, started the campaign in third place but in a stunning turnaround now command a majority.

Mr Trudeau, the 43-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, said Canadians had voted for real change.
Incumbent Conservative PM Stephen Harper accepted defeat and his party said he will step down as leader.

It was the longest campaign in Canada’s history, and had been thought to be much closer.

Speaking after the polls closed, Mr Harper said he had already congratulated Mr Trudeau, saying the Conservatives would accept the results “without hesitation”.

Addressing his jubilant supporters shortly afterwards, Mr Trudeau said that Canadians “sent a clear message tonight – it’s time for a change”.

“We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. Most of all we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less.

“This is what positive politics can do,” he said, also praising Mr Harper for his service to the country.

Few had predicted a Liberal victory on this scale. They look set to win 184 out of 338 seats – 14 more than they need for a majority.

That represents a huge increase from only 36 that they had held after suffering their worst-ever election result in 2011.

They become the first party ever to move from third place in parliament to a majority in one election in Canada’s history.

The Liberal Party’s election platform included:

* Cutting income taxes for middle-class Canadians while increasing them for the wealthy
* Running deficits for three years to pay for infrastructure spending
* Doing more to address environmental concerns over the controversial Keystone oil pipeline
* Taking more Syrian refugees; pulling out of bombing raids against Islamic State while bolstering training for Iraqi forces
* Legalising marijuana

Meanwhile, the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) is on course to win 44 seats, less than half the number they held in the outgoing parliament.

“I congratulated Mr Trudeau on his exceptional achievement,” said NDP leader Tom Mulcair.

As the results began pouring in, former Conservative Justice Minister Peter MacKay said: “A sea of change here. We are used to high tides in Atlantic Canada. This is not what we hoped for.”

Mr Trudeau campaigned on a promise of change, urging voters ahead of the polling day to “come together as a country”. Mr Trudeau’s charismatic father, Pierre, is considered the father of modern Canada.

Mr Harper, 56, portrayed himself as the steady hand who could steer Canada’s troubled economy back on track. His campaign ran TV advertisements saying that Mr Trudeau was “just not ready” to take office.

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