Toronto: Canadians gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party a victory in Monday's parliamentary elections, reports Associated Press, but his gamble to win a majority of seats failed and the result was remarkably similar to the election two years ago.
The Liberals won the most seats of any party. The 49-year-old Trudeau channeled the star power of his father, the Liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau when he first won the election in 2015 and has led his party to the top finish in two elections since.
Trudeau's Liberals were leading or elected in 157 seats the same number they won in 2019, 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives were leading or elected in 121 seats, also the same number they won in 2019. The leftist New Democrats were leading or elected in 29, a gain of five seats, while the Quebec-based Bloc Qubcois was down three at 28 and the Greens remained at two seats.
Trudeau entered the election leading a stable minority government that wasn't under threat of being toppled.
The opposition was relentless in accusing Trudeau of calling an unnecessary early vote two years before the deadline for his own personal ambition. Trudeau bet Canadians didn't want a Conservative government during a pandemic.
Canada is now among the most fully vaccinated countries in the world and Trudeau's government spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the economy amid lockdowns. Trudeau argued that the Conservatives' approach, which has been skeptical of lockdowns and vaccine mandates, would be dangerous and says Canadians need a government that follows science.
Trudeau's legacy includes embracing immigration at a time when the U.S. and other countries closed their doors. He also legalized cannabis nationwide and brought in a carbon tax to fight climate change. And he preserved free trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico amid threats by former U.S. President Donald Trump to scrap the agreement.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and ex-Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted support for Trudeau.
At 49, Trudeau had faced tougher political bouts and still came out unscathed.
After six years in power, however, his administration is showing signs of fatigue, and it was an uphill battle for him to convince Canadians to stick with his Liberals after falling short of high expectations set in his 2015 landslide win.
Earlier, after a bumpy five weeks of campaigning when entered the final stretch of the contest, Liberals and Conservatives -- the two main political parties that have ruled Canada since its 1867 confederation -- were virtually tied, with about 31 percent support each in public opinion polls.