The Liberal Party of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won legislative elections in Canada, although it remained uncertain whether his gamble to capture most seats paid off.
The Liberals appeared to be on course to win the most seats of any political party. When he first won a victory in 2015, the 49-year-old Trudeau absorbed the star power of his father, the late Liberal icon and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and now appears to have guided his party to the top finish in two elections since.
In 148 ridings, the Liberals were in the lead, followed by the Conservatives in 103, the Quebec-based Bloc Quebecois in 28, and the left-wing New Democratic Party in 22.
During a pandemic, Trudeau bet that Canadians wouldn't want a Conservative administration.
Trudeau argued that the Conservatives' approach, which has been skeptical of lockdowns and vaccine mandates, would be dangerous and that Canadians need a government that follows science. Canada is now among the most fully vaccinated countries globally, and Trudeau's government spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the economy amid lockdowns.
The opposition was adamant that Trudeau called a needless early poll for his gain two years ahead of schedule.
Trudeau went into the election as the leader of a stable minority administration that was not in danger of being overthrown.
The Conservative Party's leader, Erin O'Toole, did not require his candidates to get vaccinated and would not specify how many were unvaccinated.
Vaccination, according to O'Toole, is a personal health decision, but an increasing number of vaccinated Canadians are becoming increasingly irritated by people who refuse to get vaccinated.
Trudeau favors requiring immunizations for Canadians traveling by air or rail, which the Conservatives reject. And Trudeau has stated that Alberta, governed by a Conservative provincial government, is in a state of emergency.
Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta, an ally of O'Toole, predicted the province might run out of beds and staff for intensive care units in days.
Two months after eliminating practically all restrictions, Kenney has reluctantly introduced a vaccine passport and imposed a required work-from-home mandate.
A Conservative victory would have been a rebuke to Trudeau, who a politician would have defeated with a quarter of his name recognition. O'Toole, 47, is a war veteran, a former lawyer, and a nine-year member of Parliament.
A year ago, O'Toole promoted himself as a "true-blue Conservative." With a commitment to "take back Canada," he became the Conservative Party's leader, but he quickly began striving to bring the party closer to the political center.
O'Toole's plan, which includes opposing his party's base on topics like climate change, guns, and balanced budgets, was aimed to appeal to a more extensive range of people in a country that is significantly more liberal than its southern neighbor.