Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday called general elections on October 21 after asking Governor General Julie Payette, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in the country, to dissolve Parliament, The Washington Post reported.
The 47-year-old prime minister is hoping to win a second term but his approval ratings have nosedived because of an ethics scandal. His Liberal Party is in a close race with Opposition Conservative Party. According to national polls both the parties have just more than 30% support, BBC reported. The Opposition party’s Andrew Scheer is expected to become the prime minister if Trudeau is unseated.
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Trudeau became an international name four years back after defeating Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He promised transparency, growth for the middle class, a gender-balanced Cabinet, and reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous groups.
He achieved some of his promises but his government has faced a number of domestic and international challenges. The country’s unemployment rates this year recorded a 40-year low with Gross Domestic Product growth of 3.7% in the latest quarter. It was better than what was anticipated, according to The Washington Post.
The Trudeau government’s relationship with the United States has been turbulent and it has found itself in diplomatic disputes with Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and China.
In February, the prime minister and his administration was accused of pressuring Canada’s Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to agree to an out-of-court settlement with engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. The company, based in Trudeau’s home province Quebec, is facing bribery and corruption charges. Last month, Canada’s ethics watchdog declared that Trudeau had used his position “to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit” the attorney general. Trudeau was also reprimanded by the ethics watchdog for a family vacation that ended up breaking conflict-of-interest laws.
The prime minister was ridiculed by the media and Opposition for his trip to India last year. In a book, Trudeau’s former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts claimed the embarrassment that the prime minister faced was a result of attempts by the Narendra Modi government to help his political opponents.
One major incident during the India trip was the invitation to former Khalistani militant Jaspal Atwal to two functions – one in Mumbai and another in New Delhi. The invitation to the New Delhi function was rescinded after a furore over what was seen as Canada’s soft stance on Sikh separatism.
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