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Trudeau faces rough road as Canada's minority parties lay out their conditions
PM faces landscape that will require skill to pass legislation – and rivals who could unseat his government on a whim

  (News Agencies) After eking out a win in the first major test of his popularity since sweeping to power in 2015, Justin Trudeau was given his first taste of minority government on Tuesday, as rival party leaders begin laying out their conditions for the Liberal leader to remain as Canada’s prime minister. “Everything is on the table,” Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the leftwing New Democratic party, told reporters.
Singh, whose party could hold the balance of power in the next parliament, outlined his policy priorities, including affordable housing and healthcare. “I’m hoping that Mr Trudeau respects the fact that there’s a minority government now, which means we’ve got to work together.”
After winning 157 of 338 seats in the country’s general election – despite losing the popular vote to the Conservative party – Trudeau now faces a landscape that will require deft political maneuvering to strike deals and pass legislation and rivals who could unseat his government on a whim.
The result also shows a significantly weakened prime minister straining under both the heavy baggage of incumbency and extensive damage to his personal brand.
“We seek hardship for none and prosperity for all, and if we unite around these common goals, I know we can achieve them,” Trudeau told cheering supporters in Montreal, telling the crowd that that Canadians had sent a decisive message of support for progressive policy on climate change and Indigenous issues.Despite his lofty rhetoric, the contrast with Trudeau’s 2015 landslide was stark, especially given the immense political capital he has spent defending progressive policies.
Early into his first term, Trudeau welcomed refugees fleeing war, appointed a gender balanced cabinet and legalized cannabis nationwide.
But in recent months, as the prime minister has been dogged by scandal – including accusations that he improperly pressured his attorney general to abandon prosecution of a major engineering company and emergence of Trudeau in blackface – he has largely abandoned his “sunny ways” vision of government.No single “slam dunk” reason explains why the prime minister’s popularity has ebbed, said Lori Turnbull, a professor of political science at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
Turnout for the general election was lower than in 2015, meaning the “red wave” driven by first time voters flocking to Trudeau failed to materialize for a second time.
“People took a chance on him four years ago and maybe didn’t come back for a second time,” said Turnbull. For those who did came back, initial excitement has largely given way to frustration. “The Liberal record on the environment is always been pretty horrible, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to change that,” said Jonathan MacCalder, a Toronto voter who supported the prime minister in 2015. In a country heavily reliant on natural resources, Trudeau’s efforts to strike a balance on the environment and economy have been criticized by both the right and the left. His government brought in a carbon tax to fight the climate crisis – but also paid billions to rescue a stalled pipeline project.
MacCalder said he felt Trudeau has lost much of his appeal – likening the prime minister to Barack Obama, the former US president who swapped boundless hope for a bleaker pragmatism in his second term – but he nonetheless voted for the Liberals on Monday. “I think: a good thing for the country and the ability to move forward,” he said of the result.
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