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Obama Commits to Working With New Canadian PM

  • VOA News

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau stands with his wife, Sophie Gregoire, as he gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, Oct. 19, 2015.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau stands with his wife, Sophie Gregoire, as he gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, Oct. 19, 2015.

President Barack Obama committed to working with Canada's new Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau of Canada on climate change and trade promotion Tuesday during a congratulatory phone call.

In particular, the two leaders noted the successful conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and the need to move forward with implementing the trade agreement. They also committed to work together to achieve a global climate agreement in Paris in December.

Trudeau will become Canada's next prime minister after leading his Liberal Party to a commanding victory in Monday's parliamentary elections.

Results provided by Canada's election commission show the Liberals winning 184 seats in the 338-seat Parliament, compared to the 99 seats won by outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party.

The left-leaning New Democratic Party, once considered the front-running party early in the 11-week campaign, finished a distant third with 44 seats.

Trudeau claimed victory before a crowd of cheering supporters in Montreal late Monday night, saying the campaign proved "this is what positive politics can do" and that he hoped it will serve as "an inspiration to like-minded people to step up and pitch in.”

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau waves while accompanied by his wife, Sophie Gregoire, as he gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, Oct. 19, 2015.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau waves while accompanied by his wife, Sophie Gregoire, as he gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, Oct. 19, 2015.

Moments before, Harper congratulated Trudeau in a concession speech in Calgary late Monday, saying "while tonight's results are not one we had hoped for, the people are never wrong." The Conservative Party later announced that Harper will step down from his post as its leader.

The victory marks a rapid rise to power for Trudeau, who at 43 becomes the second-youngest prime minster in Canada's history, withstanding political attacks that he was too inexperienced and not ready for the job.

The former schoolteacher was first elected to parliament in 2008, and became head of the Liberals in 2013 after the party lost three straight elections to the Conservatives dating back to 2006.

Campaign platform

Trudeau campaigned on a platform of raising taxes on Canada's richest citizens, increasing spending on infrastructure to boost the economy and improving relations with the United States.

University of Toronto political scientist Peter Loewen says his polling suggests there is support for such a platform.

"There is majority support for raising taxes on the wealthy. It depends on how you define wealthy, of course, and there is not a huge aversion to deficits as there was before in Canada,” Loewen said. “That was believed to be orthodoxy in Canada; you couldn’t win if you weren’t running on balanced budgets. Justin Trudeau appears to have proved that to be wrong."

A supporter holds up an old issue of The Gazette newspaper featuring former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, Oct. 19, 2015.

A supporter holds up an old issue of The Gazette newspaper featuring former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, Oct. 19, 2015.

"Canadians from across this great country sent a clear message tonight. It is time for a change in this country, my friends, a real change," he said in his victory speech.

His late father, Pierre, was first elected in 1968 on a wave of support among voters that became known as "Trudeaumania," and served nearly uninterrupted for the next 16 years.

The charismatic Pierre, who died in 2000 at the age of 84, introduced Canada's version of the bill of rights and made French one of the country's official languages, all while capturing international headlines for dating movie stars and models before marrying.

VOA's Victor Beattie contributed to this report.

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