Justin Trudeau’s summer election gamble has come up short — but the Liberal leader will continue on as prime minister.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Trudeau was back in his home riding of Papineau in Montreal, greeting constituents in the Jarry Metro Station, and thanking them for their support, something that has become a bit of a tradition for the 49-year-old leader.
With almost all votes tallied, Mr Trudeau's Liberal Party gained 158 seats, up just one from the 2019 elections, in which the party won a minority government but lost the popular vote.
And the same thing has happened again, Elections Canada reported.
The Conservatives, led by Erin O’Toole, once again find themselves behind the Liberals in seats but ahead in the vote share, with 34 per cent compared to the Liberals' 32.2 per cent.
The figures, near identical with those seen in the 2019 election, have some Canadians questioning why they had an election in the middle of a pandemic, costing taxpayers $600 million.
“I've seen an awful lot of people referring to it as the Groundhog Day election,” said Tim Abray, a policy and communications strategist in Ottawa.
“I think that's pretty accurate. Honestly, it's not too surprising that we ended up exactly where we were. It was pretty clear for a while that whatever the outcome, it was going to be a minority government of some kind.”
Long lines and wait times
Elections Canada dramatically reduced the number of polling stations across the country and struggled to find enough people to work the election, resulting in long queues and wait times that frustrated voters.
In the Toronto riding of Toronto Centre, the queue to vote stretched a whole city block when polls opened at 9.30am.
A few kilometres away in the riding of Spadina Fort York, voters who made it to the polling station before the polls closed at 9.30pm waited upwards of three hours to cast their ballots.
The result was a voter turnout under 60 per cent, a significant reduction from the 2019 election.
“I think we witnessed one of the worst possible [times] to run it in, when people who might even be afraid to show up to the polls for fear of contracting a virus or they just simply don't have the time to wait to cast their vote, that doesn't serve democracy when those sorts of considerations come into play,” Mr Abray told The National.
Mr Trudeau called the snap election in August hoping to capitalise on his handling of the pandemic.
So far, Canada has fared better than many western countries in limiting the number of deaths from Covid-19, and it also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
He gambled on Canadians being generally supportive of his performance over the past 18 months and hopes that would give him the complete set of keys to Parliament.
The results show that Mr Trudeau was right in the sense that voters were supportive of the way he has handled the pandemic, but were actually happy with how the minority government, which forces the parties to work together, was running.
One voter in Brampton - a suburb of Toronto and part of the 905, an area that is critical to winning on election day and which Mr Trudeau’s Liberals carried once again - told The National that the prime minister deserved another term because of how Canada has faired during the pandemic.
“I don't think everything he's done has been perfect,” the voter said. “I think some things he waited a little too long for, I think in other ways, perhaps, he was a little bit ahead, but overall, I give him a pretty good grade on it.”
Many Canadians seem to agree, but not enough for Mr Trudeau to win back the majority he first entered Ottawa with back in 2015.
“You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic,” Mr Trudeau said in his victory speech on Monday night.
“Canadians have chosen a progressive plan.”
Which looks very similar to the one they chose two years earlier.