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Trudeau’s Liberals win Canada vote, will form minority government

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party held onto power in a nail-biter of a Canadian general election on Monday, but as a weakened minority government.

Television projections as of 2 am Tuesday (0600 GMT) declared the Liberals winners or leading in 156 of the nation’s 338 electoral districts, versus 122 for his main rival Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives, after polling stations across six time zones closed.

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As early as Tuesday, Trudeau will have to form an alliance with one or more smaller parties in order to govern a fractured nation.

The first test of his future government will follow in the coming weeks with a speech to parliament outlining his legislative priorities and a confidence vote.

“From coast to coast to coast, tonight Canadians rejected division and negativity,” Trudeau said. “And they rejected cuts and austerity and voted in favour of a progressive agenda and strong action on climate change.”

AFP / Geoff Robins Conservative leader Andrew Scheer warned that ‘Canada is a country that is further divided’ in his election concession speech

He reassured Quebec that his Liberal government, despite an electoral setback in the French-speaking province, “will be there for you.”

He also spoke directly to a growing sense of Western Canada’s alienation within the federation, telling those in Saskatchewan and Alberta provinces: “I’ve heard your frustration.”

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The 47-year-old former school teacher dominated Canadian politics over the four years of his first term, but faced a grilling during the 40-day election campaign, which he described as one of the “dirtiest and nastiest” in Canadian history.

Trudeau and Scheer exchanged barbs as attack ads and misinformation multiplied.

AFP / Don MacKinnon NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, a leftist former criminal defense lawyer, is the first non-white leader of a federal political party in Canada

Trudeau evoked the bogeymen of past and current Tory parties fostering “politics of fear and division” while Scheer called the prime minister a “compulsive liar,” “a phony and a fraud.”

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Going into the election Trudeau’s golden boy image had already been damaged by ethics lapses in the handling of the bribery prosecution of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. His popularity took a further hit with the emergence during the campaign of old photographs of him in blackface makeup.

At one rally, the prime minister was forced to wear a bulletproof vest due to a security threat.

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“Trudeau has really lost his halo. It’s pretty tarnished,” commented Lois Welsh, 77, in Regina, disappointed over the Liberal win.

– ‘Cheap shots’ during campaign –

Outside polling stations, Canadians told AFP they had wished for a more positive campaign focused on issues.

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“I deplored the cheap shots during the campaign. I think we’re better than that,” said Andree Legault in Montreal.

GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Cole Burston Liberal Leader and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will now have to form an alliance with one or more smaller parties in order to govern a fractured nation

In his concession speech, Scheer said, “Canadians have passed judgement on (Trudeau’s) Liberal government,” noting that the Liberals shed more than 20 seats as well as “support in every region of the country.”

“Canada is a country that is further divided,” he said, warning that its oil sector, the fourth largest in the world but struggling with low prices and a lack of pipeline capacity, is “under attack.”

“We have put him on notice, his leadership is damaged and his government will end soon and when that time comes, the Conservatives will be ready and we will win!”

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AFP / Jonathan WALTER Canadian parliament projection

Some 27.4 million Canadians were eligible to vote in the election, and the turnout was reported to have been large, at almost 65 percent.

A record 97 women were elected to parliament, including Canada’s first indigenous attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who ran as an independent candidate after Trudeau kicked her out of his caucus.

The night also saw Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt turfed and Liberal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale lose the seat he held for 26 years.

Scheer, only two years after winning the leadership of his party, struggled to win over Canadians with his bland minivan-driving dad persona and a throwback to the thrifty policies of past Tory administrations.

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Social democrats and resuscitated Quebec separatists also chipped away at Liberal support.

The Bloc Quebecois came back from a ruinous 2015 election result, tapping into lingering Quebec nationalism to take 32 seats, while the New Democratic Party (NDP) won 24 seats, according to projections.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, a leftist former criminal defense lawyer, is the first non-white leader of a federal political party in Canada, and will likely emerge as kingmaker.

Michel Mercer in Montreal said he voted for the Liberals, but only to keep the Tories at bay.

“I would have voted NDP but I didn’t want to see the Conservatives in power,” he told AFP.

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The Green Party, hopeful for a breakout, meanwhile managed to add only one seat, bringing its tally to three.


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Pence adviser says that Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian president was ‘unusual and inappropriate’

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Mike Pence sneer

Jennifer Williams, a Special Adviser on Europe and Russia issues for Vice President Mike Pence's foreign policy team, told congressional investigators that she viewed President Donald Trump's July 25th phone call to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky as "unusual and inappropriate." Williams had listened in on the phone call while it was happening, and a whistleblower revealing the controversial contents of that call prompted the current impeachment inquiry into Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Jim Jordan childishly refuses to condemn Trump’s Ukraine call: ‘Democrats have been out to get the president’

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Sunday argued that President Donald Trump should not be impeached because he never completed his quid pro quo with Ukraine.

During an interview on CBS, host Margaret Brennan explained that Trump only released aid to Ukraine after a whistleblower came forward with allegations that he was trying to bribe the country's president to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

"Most important, the Ukrainians did nothing, as far as investigations go, to get the aid released," Jordan opined. "There was never this quid pro quo, that the Democrats all promise existed before President Trump released the phone call."

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Chuck Todd burns down GOP’s Ron Johnson’s Ukraine excuses: ‘You seem to blame this on everybody but the president’

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A clearly exasperated Chuck Todd was forced to talk over a loud and filibustering Sen Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Sunday morning for once again pushing Ukraine conspiracies and arguing over whether Donald Trump wanted the president of Ukraine to attack former Vice President Joe Biden on his behalf.

Having let Johnson throw out several scenarios and try and spread the blame around, Todd, finally cut in to say, "You seem to blame this on everybody but the president. It was the president’s actions."

"You’re blaming everybody else for the reason we’re in this situation, other than the president," Todd continued. "Isn’t the president’s own behavior, which raised all of these yellow and red flags, isn’t is that why we’re here?”

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