TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing a tough re-election battle against his Conservative Party rival, Andrew Scheer, in Canadian elections on Monday. Here’s a guide to the election:
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Trudeau’s championing of diversity and gender equality and his refugee-friendly policies have made him a beacon of hope for liberals in the Trump era, but political and personal missteps have left his reelection in doubt. Not since 1935 has a first-term Canadian prime minister with a parliamentary majority lost a bid for reelection. Former U.S. President Barack Obama tweeted his support this week, saying the world needs Trudeau’s “progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term.”
A MINORITY GOVERNMENT?
Canadians don’t directly elect the prime minister. The post goes to the leader of a party that’s able to win the confidence of a majority of members in the House of Commons. Polls suggest that no party is likely to get a majority of Parliament’s 338 seats, so a shaky alliance may be needed to pass legislation. If Conservatives win the most seats — but not a majority — they are expected to seek an arrangement with the separatist Bloc Quebecois party in Quebec. Trudeau’s Liberals would likely rely on the leftist New Democrats. The Liberals enter this election with 177 seats, the Conservatives have 95, the New Democrats 39 and the Bloc Quebecois 10.
The main issue appears to Trudeau himself. Photos of Trudeau appearing in black and brownface when he was younger surfaced last month, casting doubt on his judgment. One of the biggest scandals in Canadian political history occurred earlier, when Trudeau’s former attorney general said he improperly pressured her to halt the criminal prosecution of a company in Quebec. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs. The scandal led to multiple resignations and caused a drop in poll ratings for Trudeau.
A YANK PM?
Scheer could, technically at least, become Canada’s first American prime minister. The Globe and Mail newspaper reported this month that Scheer holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship. Only after he was asked about it did Scheer acknowledge it. He said he began the process of renouncing his American citizenship in August, just before the election campaign started, but the process could take 10 months. Scheer had been critical of past Canadian political figures with dual citizenship. The career politician has also been criticized for embellishing his resume by saying he previously worked as an insurance broker. He did not.
RELATIONS WITH THE U.S.
Relations have improved since Trump assailed Trudeau in unprecedented attacks on America’s longtime ally last year. Trump called Trudeau a “weak” and “dishonest” after Trudeau said Canada would not be pushed around in trade talks. But a free-trade deal has since been reached and Trudeau, Trump and Scheer are eager for it to pass the U.S Congress and Senate.
CLIMATE CHANGE DIFFERENCES
Trudeau implemented a national carbon tax and has tried to strike a balance between the environment and the economy. Trudeau canceled a pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific coast but later bought another stalled pipeline in hope of getting Canada’s oil to international markets. Scheer has said he will immediately scrap the carbon tax. He wants more pipelines built from the oil sands, the third largest reserves in the world but a large source of emissions.