Liberal party loses bypolls in a stronghold, anxious moments for Justin Trudeau


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The general elections in Canada are expected to be held next year

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In a huge setback for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party lost the by-elections in the party’s longtime stronghold, Toronto-St. Paul constituency, on Tuesday, CBC News reported.

Stewart’s victory is shocking because the seat has been held by the Liberals for more than 30 years — even through the party’s past low points, such as the 2011 federal election that returned just 34 Liberal MPs to Parliament. Before Monday’s vote, a Conservative candidate hadn’t been competitive in Toronto-St. Paul’s since the 1980s. The party hadn’t won a seat in urban Toronto since the 2011 federal election.

Lately, India and Canada have shared strained ties since last year over Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing. Nijjar was designated a terrorist by the Indian government in 2020. He was shot dead in Surrey last June. Justin Trudeau had accused the involvement of the Indian Government in Nijjar’s killing. However, India had dismissed the accusation as ‘ridiculous and unfounded’. In 2020, the NIA classified Nijjar as a terrorist.

Justin Trudeau reacted to the shocking results and said he hears people’s “concerns and frustrations”, adding that he and his team have a lot of hard work to do.

“This was obviously not the result we wanted, but I want to be clear that I hear your concerns and frustrations,” Trudeau said in a media statement. He did not take questions from reporters.

Amid concerns among voters, Trudeau’s approval ratings have fallen to a record low of 30 percent, just a year ahead of the election year. Despite plummeting ratings, Trudeau has vowed to lead the Liberal Party into the elections next year.

In a closely contested election, Conservative candidate Don Stewart, a consultant, claimed victory with about 42 percent of the vote against Liberal candidate Leslie Church, a former Parliament Hill staffer and lawyer, who took roughly 40 percent of the ballots cast.

The poor showing by the Liberal Party in a stronghold like this could prompt some soul-searching for Trudeau, who has seen his popularity plummet amid inflation, the cost of living crisis, high home prices and surging immigration levels, driving voter discontent, as per CBC News.

This Conservative upset is likely to cause 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.

The outgoing Liberal MP, Carolyn Bennett, beat her Conservative opponent by some 24 points in this riding in 2021. Church lost by about two points. If that same sort of vote swing was applied to other ridings in the province, dozens of Liberal MPs could lose their seats at the next election.

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