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Canadian PM Justin Trudeau dissolves parliament, launches election campaign

  
  
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  Trudeau requested the dissolution of parliament Wednesday in a meeting with Governor General Julie Payette, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Canada, marking the formal start of campaigning. (News Agencies) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off Canada’s election campaign Wednesday, with polls showing his Liberals locked in a tight race with the opposition Conservative Party ahead of the Oct. 21 vote. Trudeau requested the dissolution of parliament Wednesday in a meeting with Governor General Julie Payette, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Canada, marking the formal start of campaigning. Neither of the two main parties is currently polling high enough -- both are just north of 30% -- to win a majority of the 338 seats up for grabs, meaning the next Parliament could be more fragmented than the current one. The Liberals enter the election with 177 seats, compared with 95 for the Conservatives. A majority requires winning at least 170 seats. The result will determine whether Trudeau, 47, can cement one of the most left-leaning agendas the country has seen in at least a generation -- progressive on social issues, willing to run deficits to tackle income disparities, assertive on climate change and fervently internationalist in an era of populism. It’s a record that prompted former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to hail Trudeau as one of the last main standard-bearers of liberalism. “Will we go back to the failed policies of the past, or will we continue to move forward? That’s the choice. It’s that clear, and it’s that important,” Trudeau said to reporters in Ottawa. Yet despite Trudeau’s focus on income distribution, the country has struggled to create wealth during his tenure. Labor productivity and real wage gains continue to hover around historically weak levels, leaving the economy increasingly reliant on immigration to generate growth. In the eyes of the business community, Trudeau hasn’t devoted serious attention to fixing Canada’s long-standing competitiveness challenges. Still, polls suggest his leftist tilt is popular and Trudeau has forged a comfortable lead over Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, 40, on the crucial question of economic stewardship, giving him a critical advantage in his bid for re-election.
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