Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), had been Prime Minister of Canada for the past nine years. But on Monday, October 19, his government (and party) came to a sudden end when 43-year-old Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party and son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, prevailed in the Canadian elections.
In the 2011 elections, the Liberal Party suffered a historic loss, coming in third place after the CPC and the New Democratic Party (NDP). However, the triumph of the Liberal Party in these elections means that great change will come for Canada, after almost ten years of Conservative governance. The Liberal Party has pledged to bring real change to Canada and drift apart from conservative platforms. The party’s proposed changes include: (1) boosting spending; (2) raising taxes on the wealthy; (3) legalizing marijuana; (4) taking in more refugees; (5) improving nationwide participation in environmental issues; (6) improving relations with Canada’s Aboriginal population; and (7) reforming the voting system. Trudeau has also vowed to drop out and no longer support the U.S.-led bombings against the Islamic State (IS), and instead focus on supporting the Syrian rebels fighting against the militants.
This Liberal Party’s victory is attributed to the population’s general discontent with several of Harper’s heavy-handed policies and decisions, including the drop in the economy in contrast with the raise in pensions for government agents. It is particularly attributed with the way Mr. Harper handled international relations with other countries, which included strict anti-terrorist measures, foul treatment to refugees and immigrants (particularly Muslims), and involving Royal Canadian Air Force fighters in the bombing campaign against the IS.
Trudeau has promised to entirely dismiss Mr. Harper’s divisive and highly political policies, including his historic emphasis on war and the military as solutions for conflict, along with Harper’s constant talks about the Cold War abroad. Instead, Trudeau intends to reduce the expenditures on war efforts and machinery, while making Canada an active participant in international bodies, such as the United Nations. The new leader also intends to foster better relationships abroad, particularly with the United States and President Obama– a relationship which was very much strained under Harper’s leadership. Trudeau, however, is expected to follow Harper in supporting the proposed Alberta-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline project and ratify the recently established Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact.
With this unexpected seize of power, Trudeau and his majority in Parliament are expected to enact their unprecedented climate change agendas, act on their commitment to multilateralism and liberal internationalism, create tax breaks for the middle class, and develop major public works program. Trudeau is also expected to start immediately in the development of international relations by attending several meetings, including the G20 meeting in Turkey, an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Philippines, a Commonwealth meeting in Malta, and the upcoming climate change summit in Paris.
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Additional Research by: Lorraine Acevedo Franqui