Canada votes as Trudeau seeks to retain power

OTTAWA: Canadians began voting on Monday to determine whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who swept into office four years ago as a charismatic figure promising “sunny ways,” will remain in power after two major scandals.
Polls opened in the Atlantic province of Newfoundland, with voting set to end in the Pacific Coast province of British Columbia at 7 pm.
Trudeau, 47, the Liberal Party leader, was endorsed by former Democratic US president Barack Obama in the final stretch of the campaign and is viewed as one of the last remaining progressive leaders among the world’s major democracies.
But he was shaken during the campaign by a blackface scandal and has been dogged by criticism of his handling of a corruption case involving a major Canadian construction company.
Trudeau, the son of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, has also had to overcome a sense of fatigue with his government.
Trudeau, accompanied by his wife and three children, voted in Montreal on Monday after a marathon sprint campaigning across the country in the past four days.
His Liberals and the main opposition Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer are in a neck-and-neck race, according to opinion polls.
“The truth is it’s a coin toss right now,” said Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker.
A year ago, no one would have predicted that Trudeau risked being the first prime minister since the 1930s to secure a parliamentary majority and then fail to win a second term.
That would still leave Trudeau in a weakened position and needing the support of left-leaning opposition parties to push through key pieces of legislation.
The Canadian dollar was trading at a new three-month high on Monday, where “domestic attention is squarely on the 43rd federal election today,” said Shaun Osborne, chief market strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.
“After some noise around the vote, we think FX players will refocus attention on the Bank of Canada policy outlook, the Fed and international backdrop pretty quickly,” he said. — AFP