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In a stunning political comeback propelled by a national desire for change, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won a decisive majority Monday night, bringing an end to the Stephen Harper era and a decade of Conservative rule.
Long derided by opponents as shallow and inexperienced, the Liberal Leader will now be the second Trudeau to take up residence as Prime Minister at 24 Sussex Dr. after leading the Liberals from the political wilderness back into government.
The result signals a vast reversal of fortunes for a party that was all but written off after winning just 34 seats in the past election. Their seat haul on Monday – with huge gains across the country – amounts to the largest increase in seats for a party between elections in Canadian history. The party was elected in 175 ridings and leading in a handful of others late Monday night.
The vote put an end to a long, acrimonious campaign that saw charges of Conservative Islamophobia and a bitter fight between the Liberals and NDP for the “change vote,” a battle the Liberals won.
In his victory speech in Montreal, Mr. Trudeau sent out a message of unity to Canadians, continuing the positive approach he adopted during the campaign. The Liberals operated on the principle that “you can appeal to the better angels of our nature, and you can win doing it,” he said.
For Mr. Harper and the Conservatives, the loss comes as a stern repudiation by voters and marks an end to their nearly 10-year hold on power, a polarizing stretch that has seen taxes cut, crime punished more severely, and a more combative role for Canada on the world stage.
The New Democrats placed a distant third and will be sorely disappointed with their showing under Leader Tom Mulcair.
Mr. Harper called on the party’s caucus to appoint a new interim leader Monday night as it became clear that the Tories had been handed a resounding defeat after a campaign that was criticized for its harsh, divisive tone. Mr. Harper has long said he would resign if the party lost this election.
He didn’t address resignation in his concession speech, but said he accepted the result.
“During the past nine and a half years it has been an unbelievable honour to serve as your Prime Minister,” he said in his Calgary riding, which he won. “We gave everything we have to give and we have no regrets whatsoever. Friends, how could we? We remain citizens of the best country on Earth.”
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