Canadians decide Monday whether Trudeau keeps job

Canadians will go to the polls Monday to decide whether Justin Trudeau gets to keep his job as a prime minister.

Trudeau, whose Liberal party has a minority of seats in Parliament and must partner with other parties to pass legislation, called the snap federal election last month hoping to win a majority of seats. However, polls indicate Trudeau’s party could lose power to the Conservatives and its leader Erin O’Toole.

O’Toole advertised himself as a "true-blue conservative" who would "take back Canada" when he became his party’s leader last year. Instead, he has tried to pull the Conservative Party toward the political center.

O’Toole has changed positions and moderated his party’s platform on a variety of issues including climate change, leading critics to describe him as a two-faced politician who would say and do anything to get elected. O’Toole calls himself a Conservative leader with a new, more inclusive style.

"We’re not your dad’s Conservative Party anymore," he told a crowd in Quebec.

After being asked during an election debate about some of his candidates who have more conservative views than him on issues like abortion and climate change, O’Toole says he is personally "pro choice" and voters can trust his leadership.

Candidate controversies over vaccines and Islamophobia dogged O’Toole. Earlier this month, a Conservative candidate in Nova Scotia apologized for social media posts that weighed in on sharia law and backed banning the burqa worn by some Muslim women. The Conservative party dumped a candidate in Toronto after the riding’s Liberal incumbent highlighted Islamophobic tweets from 2017.

Meanwhile, Trudeau has repeatedly been forced to defend his decision to call an election during a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opponents questioned the timing of the election in each of three debates.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the leftist New Democratic Party, accused Trudeau of being selfish, saying the election is nothing but an attempt to grab more power. Trudeau defended his efforts, noting Canada is one of the most fully vaccinated nations in the world.

Trudeau has faced increasingly hostile protests by what he calls "Anti-Vax mobs" during the campaign, including one incident in which he was hit by gravel. Trudeau says Canadians are proud of the fact that Canada is not like the United States and said he won’t change his campaign style.

Local races will decide which party controls Parliament. The party that wins the most seats gets to lead the process of forming a new government, but must form a coalition government if it does not win a majority of seats.

Other parties include the Green Party, led by Annamie Paul; the People’s Party of Canada, led by Maxime Bernier; and the Bloc Québécois, led by Yves-François Blanchet.

All major parties except the Bloc Québécois have candidates in northwestern Ontario’s three parliamentary ridings. The regional incumbents are Patty Hajdu in Thunder Bay-Superior North, a Liberal who serves as Trudeau’s Health Minister; Liberal Marcus Powlowski in Thunder Bay-Rainy River; and Conservative Eric Melillo in Kenora.