One of These Men Will Lead Canada. What's at Stake

Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau face off
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2015 6:40 AM CDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper hugs the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Justin Trudeau.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)
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(Newser) – It's a big day in Canada. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces a tough re-election battle against frontrunner Justin Trudeau. Here's a guide to Monday's election:

  • What's at stake: Harper is seeking a rare fourth term in the hopes of safeguarding his goal of shattering Canada's reputation as a liberal haven. But he's trailing in polls behind Trudeau, the son of late PM Pierre Trudeau, a Liberal icon who opened Canada's door wide to immigration and is responsible for the country's version of the US Bill of Rights.

  • Different visions: Harper favors smaller government, tight spending, and is more hawkish on national security. He has nudged the traditionally center-left country to the right, lowering sales and corporate taxes and avoiding climate change legislation. Trudeau promises to hike taxes on the rich and spend billions on infrastructure, running deficits for three years to do so. And he has pledged to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.
  • When we'll know: The first polls close at 7pm EDT and the last ones at 10pm EDT. Results should be called by 11pm. No party is likely to get a majority of Parliament's 338 seats. If Liberals get the most seats, Trudeau would become prime minister (thanks to pledged support from the New Democratic Party). If Harper gets the most seats but falls short of a majority, his stay in power could be temporary as Liberals and New Democrats would seek to replace him after parliament reconvenes, within weeks or months.
  • What it means for the US: A Trudeau victory could mean improved relations between the two countries, which have soured over President Obama's reluctance to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. While Trudeau supports the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline, he says relations between the two major trading partners should not hinge on one project and has vowed to smooth tensions. Harper has clashed with Obama on several issues, including the historic Iranian nuclear deal.
  • More about Trudeau and his "star power": Trudeau's father dated actresses Barbra Streisand and Kim Cattrall; his mother earned notoriety as first lady for partying with the Rolling Stones and at New York's Studio 54. If he wins, the 43-year-old, who has three young children with former model Sophie Gregoire, would become the second youngest PM in Canada's history, despite a thin resume. A former teacher who sported long hair until recently, Trudeau has been an opposition member of Parliament since 2008.

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