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Jolt to Trudeau as Liberals lose stronghold in key Canadian by-poll

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
June 26, 2024 02:01 IST
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In a stunning blow to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his Liberal Party lost a closely-watched federal by-election on Tuesday to the Conservatives from a longtime Liberal stronghold, prompting opposition leader Pierre Poilievre to demand a snap election.

IMAGE: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

In a nail-biting finish, Conservative candidate Don Stewart won the Liberal stronghold of Toronto-St. Paul's by defeating Liberal Party's Leslie Church by 590 votes.

The contest also featured Amrit Parhar, an Indian-origin candidate from the New Democratic Party.


Toronto-St. Paul's is a federal electoral district in Toronto, Ontario province. The Liberal Party had held Toronto-St Paul's since 1993. It is one of 338 seats in the House of Commons.

Stewart's victory over Church is shocking because the seat has been held by the Liberals for more than 30 years, Canadian media commented.

Before Monday, the seat was held by the Liberals for 10 successive elections. Former MP Carolyn Bennett -- whose appointment as ambassador to Denmark triggered the byelection -- had been the local representative for over 25 years.

"Thank you, Toronto-St. Paul's! I am beyond humbled by the trust you have put in me and I will never take it for granted. I promise to be YOUR voice on Parliament Hill," Stewart posted on X.

His rival, Church in her remarks after she lost the race, noted that the Liberals have got 16 months until the next election. "I plan to be the Liberal candidate in St. Paul's. We start working to earn back the trust of voters...," she posted on X.

"Congratulations to Don Stewart on a well run campaign. We look forward to the rematch," she wrote.

According to the preliminary results, Stewart won 42.1 percent of the vote with 15,555 votes cast for him, while Church received 40.5 percent of the vote, with 14,965 ballots cast for her. The NDP candidate Parhar came a distant third with 10.9 percent of the votes. Christian Cullis, who ran for the Green Party, received 2.9 percent of the votes.

Losing the historic stronghold is likely to pile pressure on Prime Minister Trudeau, Global News reported.

"The Liberals' poor showing in a stronghold like this could prompt some soul-searching for Trudeau, who has seen his popularity plummet as inflation, the cost of living crisis, high home prices and surging immigration levels drive voter discontent," CBC News commented.

This Conservative upset is likely to lead to some anxiety in the Liberal caucus because such a dramatic vote swing could put other supposedly "safe" seats in play for the Conservatives in the next general election, expected to be in 2025, it said.

Conservative Leader Poilievre demanded Prime Minister Trudeau call a snap election after what he described as a “shocking upset” on social media Tuesday.

“Here is the verdict: Trudeau can't go on like this. He must call a carbon tax election now,” Poilievre wrote on X.

Voters in Toronto-St. Paul's told CBC News throughout the campaign that the government's handling of the housing crisis, inflation and the Israel-Hamas conflict were sore spots.

But it wasn't just about the issues — several voters expressed a desire for change and fatigue with Trudeau.

Even past and present Liberal supporters told CBC News Trudeau should resign as leader if the party loses this one-time ruby-red Liberal seat.

Trudeau, whose allegations in September last year of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of a Sikh separatist in Canada caused a severe strain in Ottawa's relations with New Delhi, has given no indication he's stepping down.

The 52-year-old prime minister has repeatedly said he will lead the Liberal Party into the federal election that is expected sometime next year.

Meanwhile, national polling shows Trudeau's Liberal Party struggling to attract and retain support, with Conservative support growing.

A poll conducted by Ipsos for Global News suggested Trudeau's waning popularity appears to be “dragging” the Liberals' fortunes down.

A majority of voters (68 percent) want him to step down, with Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker describing the numbers as “close to rock bottom,” while Conservative Leader Poilievre, 45, is gaining ground.

That poll put the Conservatives at 42 percent of the decided vote, with the Liberals at 24 percent.

Almost half -- 44 percent -- said they felt Conservative Leader Poilievre would make the best prime minister, while 75 percent of Canadians want another party to take government from the Liberals.

Just 25 percent think the Liberals “deserve reelection,” Global News reported.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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