Justin Trudeau Wins Reelection In Canadian Election
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
He apologized for a blackface scandal. He roiled his base by saving a controversial oil pipeline. And he was accused of bullying his attorney general. Despite all that, Justin Trudeau has won another term as Canada's prime minister.
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PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU: We will make life more affordable. We will continue to fight climate change. We will get guns off our streets, and we will keep investing in Canadians.
MARTIN: Canadian voters yesterday delivered another victory to Trudeau's Liberal Party, but it did not come easily. It was a tight race against the opposition Conservatives. So tight, in fact, that Trudeau's Liberals lost their majority in the legislature. Journalist David McGuffin is covering all this from Ottawa and joins us now. Good morning, David.
DAVID MCGUFFIN, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: So what does this mean, practically speaking? Trudeau wins, but he's not going to have a mandate like he did before, right?
MCGUFFIN: No. It seems, basically, what voters did here was gave Trudeau a warning but not an outright rejection. I think there's a lot of concern about the scandals that he was embroiled in. His Liberals lost 21 seats and actually lost the popular vote to the Conservative Party. So he's had his majority in Parliament removed from him. And while he still will govern, he's effectively been put in check by the opposition parties.
So that was certainly the message in the concession speech from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer that - which he gave last night in the early hours, very early hours of the morning.
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ANDREW SCHEER: Conservatives have put Justin Trudeau on notice. And Mr. Trudeau, when your government falls, Conservatives will be ready, and we will win.
MARTIN: I guess from another perspective, you can say that Justin Trudeau does have incredible political staying power because he was able to win, despite all these controversies, right?
MCGUFFIN: No. Absolutely. And there was an assumption right up until voting day, really, that the Conservatives would likely at least form a minority government. But voters didn't really seem to warm to Andrew Scheer, their leader. There was concerns about his social conservatism. He's against abortion rights and just not popular amongst Canadians. And he heavily downplayed the need to fight climate change. He was the only major party leader to do that. And that seems to have hurt him with many centrist voters, which he desperately needed to win, especially in the center of the country.
Trudeau was also helped by strategic voting on the left, voters of the New Democratic Party, which had been surging under popular leader Jagmeet Singh, appear to have decided to vote Liberal as a way of preventing a Conservative government. But Trudeau also has genuine star power. I mean, he seems to thrive off the energy of crowds and vice versa. He pulled much bigger crowds than any of the other leaders throughout the campaign. I was at a rally just after the blackface scandal, and that was a very forgiving crowd. He just - he seems to be better at campaigning than he is, almost, in any other part of his job. It's pretty incredible to watch.
MARTIN: So let's talk a little bit about U.S.-Canadian relations because the relationship between Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump hasn't exactly been warm. But President Trump did send him a little Twitter shoutout congratulating him on his, quote, "wonderful and hard-fought victory." I mean, I'm just curious, did Donald Trump have any kind of effect on the Canadian election?
MCGUFFIN: He definitely loomed over the campaign. I had plenty of voters here say to me in the past month or so that Canada needed to be wary about getting rid of Justin Trudeau 'cause you know how bad it can get. And that was in reference, certainly, to Donald Trump. I mean, Justin Trudeau played up the fact that he - how well he managed the relationship with Donald Trump, that he got a new NAFTA deal signed. So I mean, I think basically, you saw in a lot of ways a rejection of the sort of populism that Trump was playing out up here.
MARTIN: All right. Reporter David McGuffin on the recent Canadian elections. Justin Trudeau has secured another term as prime minister while losing the majority. David, we appreciate your reporting. Thank you.
MCGUFFIN: Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.