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New Canadian PM to Lessen Involvement in Anti-IS Coalition

  • 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.

Canada's new Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau has reaffirmed his commitment to scaling back his country's involvement in the anti-Islamic State coalition in Iraq and Syria.

Speaking to reporters late Tuesday, Trudeau said he and U.S. President Barack Obama discussed by phone Canada's involvement in the Washington-led coalition.

"I committed that we would continue to engage in a responsible way that understands that Canada has a role to play in the fight against ISIL," he said, referring to the Islamic State.

"But he understands the commitments I've made in ending the combat mission," Trudeau added.

Trudeau, who led his Liberal Party to a commanding victory in Monday's parliamentary elections, campaigned on promises to bring home Canadian fighter jets and end his country's combat mission in Iraq and Syria. He has promised to keep military trainers in place, however.

During their phone call, Obama committed to working with Trudeau on other issues ranging from climate change to trade promotion, according to White House officials.

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.

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, which once was 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, saying the campaign proved "this is what positive politics can do," and that he hopes it will serve as "an inspiration to like-minded people to step up and pitch in.”

Moments before, Harper congratulated Trudeau in a concession speech in Calgary, 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 the 43-year-old Trudeau, who becomes the second-youngest prime minister in Canada's history after withstanding political attacks that he was inexperienced and not ready for the job. The former school teacher 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. He 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.

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.