Trudeau ends almost 10 years of Conservative government in Canada

Trudeau ends almost 10 years of Conservative government in Canada

Canadians have voted for a sea change in their government, returning a legendary name for liberals – Trudeau – to the prime minister’s office and resoundingly ending Conservative Stephen Harper’s near-decade in charge.

Justin Trudeau, the son of late premier Pierre Trudeau, became Canada’s new prime minister after his Liberal Party won a majority of parliament’s 338 seats.

The former teacher, an MP since 2008, is the second youngest prime minister in Canadian history.

"Tonight Canada is becoming the country it was before,'' Mr Trudeau told a victory rally in Montreal.

“We beat fear with hope. We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together. Most of all we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less.”

The Liberals had been favoured to win the most seats, but few expected the final margin of victory to be as emphatic.

Mr Harper, one of the longest-serving Western PMs, announced he was stepping down as Conservative leader following the crushing defeat, instructing the party to appoint an interim head.

“The people are never wrong,” he said. “The disappointment is my responsibility and mine alone.”

Mr Harper said he called Mr Trudeau to congratulate him.

Mr Trudeau, tall and trim at 43, channels the star power, if not quite the political heft, of his father, who swept to power in 1968 on a wave of support dubbed “Trudeaumania”.

Thanking Mr Harper for his service, he said positive politics led his to his victory and Canadians had sent a message of change.

Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister until 1984 with a short interruption, remains one of the few Canadian politicians known in America, his charisma often drawing comparisons to John F Kennedy.

A bachelor when he became prime minister, he dated actresses Barbra Streisand and Kim Cattrall and is a household name in Canadian history, responsible for the country’s version of the Bill of Rights.

His son, who has re-energised the Liberal Party since its devastating electoral losses four years ago, promises to raise taxes on the rich and run deficits for three years to boost government spending.

“We have a chance to bring real change to Canada and bring an end to the Harper decade,” Justin Trudeau said in Mr Harper’s adopted home province of Alberta, traditionally a Conservative stronghold.

Canada has shifted to the centre-right under Mr Harper, who has lowered both sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation and clashed with the Obama administration over the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Trudeau victory will ease tensions with the US. Although Mr Trudeau supports the Keystone pipeline, he argues relations should not hinge on the project.

Mr Harper has clashed with the US over other issues, including the recently-reached Iran nuclear deal.

Mr Trudeau’s opponents pilloried him as too inexperienced, but he embraced his boyish image on election day.

Sporting jeans and a varsity letter jacket, he posed for a photo standing on the thighs of two his colleagues to make a cheerleading pyramid, his campaign plane in the backdrop with “Trudeau 2015” painted in large red letters.

Mr Harper, 56, visited districts he won in the 2011 election in an attempt to hang on to them. On Saturday, he posed with Toronto’s former crack-smoking mayor, Rob Ford, in a conservative suburb.

Hurt when Canada entered a mild recession earlier this year, Mr Harper made a controversy over the Islamic face veil a focus of his campaign, a decision his opponents seized on to depict him as a divisive leader.

“A sea of change here. We are used to high tides in Atlantic Canada. This is not what we hoped for,” said Peter MacKay, a former senior Conservative cabinet minister, shortly after polls closed in Atlantic Canada.

Paula Mcelhinney, 52, from Toronto, voted Liberal to get rid of Mr Harper.

“I want to get him out, it’s about time we have a new leader. It’s time for a change,” she said.

“Canadians rejected the politics of fear and division,” New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair said of the Harper Conservatives.

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