Canada votes first new leader in 10 years as Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party wins

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Supporters of Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau cheer as results show the Liberals ahead in the general elections in Montreal on October 19, 2015. Trudeau's Liberals have won Canada's legislative elections, according to TV projections. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM

Canada voted in its first new leader in 10 years, as a general election handed Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party an absolute majority — and a stunning blow to incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“This is what positive politics can do,” Trudeau told supporters in Ottawa early Tuesday morning as the last few results trickled in.

“I didn’t make history tonight, you did.”

The victory denied a fourth term to Harper and his Conservative party. Because Canada does not have term limits, Harper has held the position since 2006.

He conceded defeat but said he’ll remain in parliament as a lawmaker.

“We put everything on the table, we gave everything we had to give and we have no regrets,” he said just before 10 p.m. in Calgary (midnight ET).

“The people of Canada have elected a Liberal government, which we accept without hesitation,” Harper said.

‘We beat fear with hope’

With vote counting still going on, Liberal candidates have secured 173 seats — or “ridings,” the Canadian term for federal electoral districts — and are leading in a further 11. That gives the party 184 seats in parliament, putting them over the line for forming a majority government. A total of 170 seats are needed for a majority.

As the crowd chanted his name, Trudeau said the Liberals won because “we listened.”

“We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together,” he said.

“Most of all we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less, and that better isn’t possible. My friends, this is Canada, where better is always possible.”

Beginnings of a dynasty?

The son of Pierre Trudeau and scion of Canada’s first likely political dynasty, the young Ottawan surged into the lead in recent weeks, largely on the back of anti-Conservative sentiment that saw Harper’s party lagging as Canadians went to the polls.

Before the grueling, 78-day electioneering campaign began, many dismissed the younger Trudeau as trading off his father’s famous name, but pundits in Canada have praised his campaign and the way he has led the Liberals to sweeping victory.

Ahead of the election, many pundits were predicting a tight race, with Harper and Trudeau neck-and-neck and the New Democratic Party (NDP) making up the numbers. Thomas Mulcair’s party currently holds four seats in the new parliament.

Mulcair is leading in his own race but pundits are suggesting he may step down after a poor showing at the polls, especially following a strong, positive campaign.

The NDP suffered a rout, slipping from Official Opposition to the Harper government to a terrible showing in the night, with only 35 seats projected — a loss of 12% of the vote.

Mulcair was gracious in defeat. “From the very outset this election has been about change. Tonight Canadians have turned a page and reject the politics of fear and division,” he said in his concession speech in Montreal. He did not indicate if he would step down as leader.

Elsewhere there were other reasons for Canadians to cheer. The Toronto Blue Jays won, as Canada’s only MLB team beat the Kansas City Royals 8-11 to claw back a game in the American League Championship Series.

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