Trudeau to Remain in Office Despite Liberal Loss in By-election

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared on Tuesday that he would remain in office despite the ruling Liberal Party losing a safe seat in a special election, sparking fresh questions about his political future.

The official opposition Conservatives emerged victorious in the Toronto-St Paul’s constituency, claiming the seat for the first time since 1988. The election was triggered by the resignation of the previous legislator.

This win marked the first time since 2015 that the Conservatives had broken the Liberals’ dominance in vote-rich Toronto, a city holding numerous seats crucial to Trudeau’s hold on power.

“I acknowledge the concerns and frustrations expressed by people. These are challenging times, and it’s clear that both I and my entire Liberal team have a significant amount of work ahead,” Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver.

“My focus remains on your success, and that’s where it will stay,” he added.

The next federal election is scheduled for no later than October 2025, and a range of polls suggest that the Liberals, who have been in power since November 2015, would face a substantial defeat at the hands of the Conservatives.

This loss signals that the Liberals might be vulnerable in less safe Toronto-area seats, highlighting the party’s challenges.

“What a disaster for the Liberals,” stated Philippe Fournier, editor-in-chief of the 338Canada website, which generates electoral projections across the nation.

The Conservatives have outlined four key objectives: eliminating the carbon tax introduced by the Liberals, addressing the government’s budget deficit, tackling the housing crisis, and combating crime.

In a social media post, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre asserted: “Trudeau can’t continue like this. He must call a carbon tax election now.”

Some political analysts have speculated that the Liberals might fare better under a different leader.

Scott Reid, a media commentator who served as chief spokesman for former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, indicated that the party must respond to the clear desire for change.

“The prime minister is undoubtedly going to have to reassess his own future,” he shared via email.

Potential candidates for the leadership position include former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

However, party leaders are selected through special conventions held on fixed dates, making it virtually impossible to replace a prime minister who wishes to remain in office.

In Toronto-St Paul’s, the Liberals garnered 40.5% of the vote, compared to 42.1% for the Conservatives. During the 2021 election, the Liberals secured 49% of the vote, while the Conservatives received 22%.

David Coletto of the Abacus Data polling firm indicated that if the swing towards the Conservatives were replicated across Ontario, the most populous province, the Liberals could be reduced to a mere handful of seats.

However, one Liberal Toronto legislator who participated in the campaign suggested that the constituency comprised numerous Jewish voters, some of whom felt that Trudeau was not sufficiently supportive of Israel.

“I don’t believe you can dismiss the dissatisfaction with the prime minister. But in this particular case, there was a referendum on (our) stance on Israel,” said the legislator, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.