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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Narrowly Wins Reelection


Votes are still being counted in Canada's parliamentary election, but it looks like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will keep his job. However, the reason Trudeau called the election was to try to win a legislative majority, and at this point, it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Reporter Emma Jacobs is on the line from Montreal. Emma, thanks for being here.

EMMA JACOBS, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: Get us up to speed at this point. What does the vote count tell us?

JACOBS: So it's too soon to have results in every single race, but the AP and CBC - the Canadian national broadcaster - were able to project fairly early last night that Trudeau's Liberals have held on to control of government. Trudeau has been governing with the largest party in Canada's House of Commons. That's the lower house of Parliament here. But his party doesn't have a majority there. He was seeking to get that with this vote, but the CBC projects his party will remain in the minority - so depending on smaller parties for support. One unusual factor is there is a higher-than-normal number of mail-in ballots, which are still being counted. There were also very long lines late yesterday after polls closed, which is not the norm in Canada. But on the whole, if trends hold, this is all turning out roughly how a lot of people had predicted in the final days of the campaign, that his party would hold a similar number of seats and stay in the lead and keep him in office. In this multiparty system, their closest competitors to beat were the Conservatives, and overall, polls had the parties really close going into Election Day.

MARTIN: Trudeau, I understand, talked to his supporters last night. What'd he say?

JACOBS: He did actually speak in the very early hours of this morning. He had an election-night event in downtown Montreal that was capped at 250 people because of COVID. A lot of those were press, so it's a quiet room. But he thanked those who voted his party back into office, and he said he's gotten the message that Canadians want to go back to the things they love and not worry about this pandemic or an election.


PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU: The moment we face demands real, important change. And you have given this Parliament and this government clear direction.

JACOBS: He's made the case throughout this campaign that he's the best leader to finish out the pandemic and that he's got stronger plans to address climate change and areas like housing affordability.

MARTIN: I mean, as we noted, Trudeau made this happen. He called for this election in hopes of securing his party's power. He must have thought that they could win a majority. Why did it end up being so close?

JACOBS: Yeah. He made that calculation. It seems like calling an election two years early, when people didn't see a clear reason for one, didn't do him any favors. It's a multiparty system, so he's competing with other parties for votes on the left. And the Conservative leader, Erin O'Toole, he positioned himself as a moderate to try and appeal to a wider swath of the electorate. And he has, for example, acknowledged the need to address climate change and presented a plan to make some cuts to emissions, while taking more socially liberal positions than his predecessors on issues like abortion. So that strategy appears to have taken a hit. But while this is also, you know, technically a victory for Trudeau, it's definitely not the one he was hoping for. The makeup of the House of Commons is going to look very similar to what was elected in 2019. And with the same allies, Trudeau's party is going to be able to make - be able to continue to pursue their agenda.

MARTIN: So after all of that, they're back where they started from. Reporter Emma Jacobs in Montreal. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

JACOBS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLYING LOTUS' "ALL IN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.