Canadians Vote in Tight Election as Trudeau Hopes to Keep Power

Voters head to cast their ballot in Canada’s federal election at the Fairbanks Interpretation Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on Monday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)

(CN) – Surges in the popularity of Canada’s smaller progressive political parties have reduced the likelihood either major party will score a majority win in the country’s elections, which close Monday.

The latest polls show the two main parties – Liberals, led by current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer – neck and neck with the support of 32% and 31.6% of voters, respectively. The progressive New Democratic Party has the support of 18.4%, with the Green Party at 7.5%, separatist Bloc Quebecois at 7% and the far-right People’s Party of Canada at 2.5%.

But Canadians don’t directly vote for prime minister, instead electing members of Parliament in their home “riding,” or district. The final tally of elections to the House of Commons will determine which party or parties win the authority to form Canada’s next government. For one party to win a mandate for a majority government, it must win 170 seats in the House. If no single party wins that many seats, the parties will form a minority government either by forming a governing coalition or by working together on individual issues.

Conservative Scheer has called instead for a government led by the party that gets the most seats. Critics say that’s not how Canada’s parliamentary system works.

In a campaign dominated by discussion of the affordability of everyday life, including taxes, health care and the economy, climate change was a close second focus. On Friday, the Green Party got a bump from the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunburg, who joined a 12,000-strong climate strike in Edmonton, Alberta – typically a Conservative stronghold and home base for Canada’s oil industry.

Canada’s 40-day campaign for federal elections ends Monday as the country heads to the polls. Results will begin streaming in the evening, but the final outcome may not be clear until Tuesday morning.

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