Canadians have re-elected a Liberal minority government, CBC News projects

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will win enough seats in this 44th general election to form another minority government, the CBC News decision desk has projected.

In the end, the final seat tally may not look very different from the composition of the House of Commons when it was dissolved in early August — prompting even more questions about why an election was called during the a fourth wave of the pandemic in the first place.

It’s a reversal of fortunes for Trudeau. He launched this campaign in mid-August with a sizeable lead in the polls — only to see his support crater days later as many voters expressed anger with his decision to prompt an election during this health crisis. Two middling debate performances by Trudeau and renewed questions about past scandals also put a Liberal victory in question.

But in the end, voters decided the Liberal team should continue to govern a country that, while battered and bruised by a health crisis, has also fared well on key pandemic metrics like death rates and vaccine coverage.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has missed his chance to unseat a prime minister who has faced his fair share of challenges during six years in office. O’Toole ran on a plan to boost health care spending, shrink the deficit over 10 years and tighten ethics rules for politicians — a more moderate take on conservatism that ultimately fell short.

With the counting still underway, it’s hard to say just how many seats O’Toole’s party will win. Based on preliminary results as of midnight ET, the Conservatives were leading or elected in 120 ridings — one seat fewer than what the party won under former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

With Trudeau and the Liberals committed to progressive policies like child care and new housing supports, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh ran even further to the left, promising a dramatic expansion of the federal government through $200 billion in new spending commitments for promises like national pharmacare.

But Singh has been criticized for putting out a platform with few details on how any of this transformative change would be implemented.

When all the ballots are counted, it could prove to be a disappointing night for Singh, with the NDP poised to pick up only a handful more seats than it won after the last vote. Singh may have more clout in Parliament to look forward to, however — a minority Liberal government will have to depend on at least one opposition party to help it pass its legislation.

Images from the 2021 federal election:

With more than 7.5 million votes counted so far, the Liberals have 32 per cent of the ballots cast, the Conservatives have about 34 per cent and the NDP has nearly 17 per cent of the vote share. The Green Party has captured 2.2 per cent of the ballots cast so far, while the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) has more than 5.2 per cent of all votes.

The Liberals owe their re-election to strong performances in the country’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

Toronto and its surrounding suburbs — colloquially known as ‘the 905’ after its area code — proved to be a resilient Liberal fortress; the Conservatives have failed to make any significant gains among GTA voters. Only one of the area’s seats, Thornhill, is on track to return a Conservative MP.

In Quebec, where the separatist the Bloc Québécois is poised to lose three of the 32 seats it held in the last Parliament, the Liberal brand is also doing well — although the Liberals were hoping for more gains there to vault it into majority government territory.

Trudeau easily cruised to victory in his own riding of Papineau. Other cabinet ministers, including François-Philippe Champagne in Quebec’s Saint-Maurice-Champlain and Mona Fortier in Ontario’s Ottawa-Vanier, have also been re-elected, according to the CBC News decision desk.

While voters have returned a Liberal government to Ottawa, early results from the region’s 32 seats suggest O’Toole’s more centrist brand of conservatism resonated in Atlantic Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritimes have been a Liberal stronghold for the last two election cycles — the party swept every seat there in 2015 and dropped only five in 2019.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau watches early election results with wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and children, Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien, at Liberal headquarters in Montreal on Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

O’Toole, who has appointed a number of Maritimers to senior roles in the party, performed better than his recent predecessors in this region.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper was shut out of Atlantic Canada in 2015 while Scheer picked up only four seats in the 2019 contest.

Opposition Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole and his wife, Rebecca, cast their ballots in Bowmanville, Ont., Monday. (Adrian Wyld/Reuters)

Liberal cabinet minister Bernadette Jordan loses her N.S. seat

According to the CBC News decision desk, Conservative candidates have been declared elected in six of the region’s ridings. Conservative Rick Perkins has unseated Liberal incumbent Bernadette Jordan in the Nova Scotia riding of South Shore-St Margarets. Jordan served as fisheries minister in Trudeau’s cabinet.

The Conservative candidate in Cumberland-Colchester, Stephen Ellis, has also defeated Liberal incumbent Lenore Zann.

Voters line up at the Halifax Convention Centre as they prepare to vote in the federal election on Monday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The first projected winner of this election was Liberal incumbent Seamus O’Regan in St. John’s South—Mount Pearl, who serves as natural resources minister in Trudeau’s cabinet. Dominic LeBlanc, another Liberal cabinet minister, has also been projected as the winner in his Beauséjour riding in New Brunswick.

Another prominent Liberal, Sean Fraser, the parliamentary secretary to the finance minister, has held off his Conservative challenger in the riding of Central Nova, a seat that was once held by former Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay.

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