Canadians handed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party a victory in the parliamentary elections, but they failed to win a majority of seats.
Trudeau’s Liberals were leading or elected in 157 seats at 12.15am EST (04:15 GMT) — exactly the same number they won in 2019, 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives were leading or elected in 121 seats, the same number they won in 2019.
The leftist New Democrats were leading or elected in 29, a gain of five seats, while the Quebec-based Bloc Québécois was down three at 28 and the Greens remained at two seats.
Trudeau entered the election leading a stable minority government that wasn’t under threat of being toppled.
The opposition was relentless in accusing Trudeau of calling an unnecessary early vote — two years before the deadline — for his own personal ambition.
“Trudeau lost his gamble to get a majority so I would say this is a bittersweet victory for him,” said Daniel Béland, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal.
“Basically we are back to square one, as the new minority parliament will look like the previous one.
"Trudeau and the Liberals saved their skin and will stay in power, but many Canadians who didn’t want this late summer, pandemic election are probably not amused about the whole situation,” he said.
Trudeau bet Canadians didn’t want a Conservative government during a pandemic.
Canada is now among the most fully vaccinated countries in the world and Trudeau’s government spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the economy amid lockdowns.
Trudeau argued that the Conservatives’ approach, which has been skeptical of lockdowns and vaccine mandates, would be dangerous and says Canadians need a government that follows science.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole didn’t require his party’s candidates to be vaccinated and would not say how many were unvaccinated.
O’Toole described vaccination as a personal health decision, but a growing number of vaccinated Canadians are increasingly upset with those who refuse to get vaccinated.
Trudeau supports making vaccines mandatory for Canadians to travel by air or rail, something the Conservatives oppose. And Trudeau has pointed out that Alberta, run by a Conservative provincial government, is in crisis.
A Conservative win would have represented a rebuke of Trudeau against a politician with a fraction of his name recognition.
O’Toole, 47, is a military veteran, former lawyer and a member of Parliament for nine years.
Describing himself as a “true-blue Conservative,” he became Conservative Party leader with a pledge to “take back Canada,” but immediately started working to push the party toward the political center.
O’Toole’s strategy, which included disavowing positions held dear by his party’s base on issues such as climate change, guns and balanced budgets, was designed to appeal to a broader cross section of voters in a country that tends to be far more liberal than its southern neighbor.