Canada’s Trudeau hangs onto power in election; aides see two-year respite

Canada’s Trudeau hangs onto power in election; aides see two-year respite
By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hung onto power after a tight election on Monday that saw his government reduced to a minority, but aides predicted he would be able to govern for two years without many problems.

Trudeau, one of the world’s most prominent progressive politicians, struggled to overcome the effects of two domestic scandals. His Liberals were leading or elected in 157 seats, a decrease of 20, preliminary results showed.

He now looks set to govern with the left-leaning New Democrats, who have 24 seats. Together the two parties can muster a majority 180 seats in the 338-seat House of Commons.

Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than 2-1/2 years. Although the New Democrats lost 16 seats, leader Jagmeet Singh is now in a good position to press for action on priorities such as more social spending and increased action on climate change.

One senior Liberal also noted that many legislators needed to serve for another two years to meet the six-year requirement for a Parliamentary pension.

“That gives us a pretty free hand for that period,” said the Liberal, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.

The New Democrats struck deals to help keep Liberal minority governments in power from 1972-1974 and in 2005.[L2N277069]

The Canadian dollar weakened 0.2% to 1.3120 per U.S. dollar, or 76.22 U.S. cents, as investors worried about how the minority government would manage the resource sector. Futures on the Toronto stock market <SXFc1> were up about 0.4%.

Trudeau visited Montreal’s subway, posing for selfies with commuters early on Tuesday, an echo of 2015 when he did the same thing.

This win was different. But Trudeau barely mentioned the loss of his majority when he spoke to supporters early on Tuesday, saying he had “a clear mandate” for a progressive agenda and more action to combat global warming.

This is unlikely to please the western provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which cast out every Liberal legislator amid anger over what the energy industry sees as overly stringent environmental rules.

The most prominent victim was Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, one of Trudeau’s top cabinet members.

Trudeau’s liberal image took a blow early in the campaign when photos emerged of him wearing blackface in the early 1990s and in 2001.

He had already been wrestling with the fallout from accusations he pressured former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to help shield engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc <SNC.TO> from corruption charges. In August, a top watchdog said he had breached ethics rules.

Wilson-Raybould, now an independent member of parliament, retained her seat on Monday, a feat in a country where nearly all legislators are backed by major parties. Former minister Jane Philpott, who also quit cabinet over the affair and ran as an independent, lost her Ontario riding.

The election was also a disappointment for Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition Conservatives, who had sought a majority. Although the Conservatives won the popular vote, with nearly all votes counted on Tuesday morning they were leading or elected in 121 ridings, up only 24 seats.

Scheer said he would continue to lead the party, but the result looks set to reopen questions about his future. Even before the election, some in the party were speculating about a leadership challenge if he lost.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Gerry Doyle and David Gregorio)

UK PM May fights back tears as she is applauded out of parliament

British Prime Minister Theresa May takes questions in Parliament on her last day in office as Prime Minister in London, Britain July 24, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS?

LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers gave outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May a standing ovation as they applauded her out of the House of Commons chamber after her final, at times emotional, appearance as leader on Wednesday.

May, 62, appeared to be fighting back tears as she left, stopping to shake hands with the speaker, John Bercow, on her way out. She will officially hand over to her successor Boris Johnson later on Wednesday.

“Later today I will return to the backbenches and it will be my first time in 21 years so it is going to be quite a change,” May told lawmakers as her final weekly question session in parliament came to a close.

Praising the link between lawmakers and the constituents they represent as “the bedrock of our parliamentary democracy”, May’s voice quivered as she finished: “That duty to serve my constituents will remain my greatest motivation.”

The hour-long session, which her husband Philip watched from the public gallery, saw lawmakers from across the political divide pay tribute to May’s public service and sense of duty, despite voicing their disagreement with many of her policies.

Television footage from a news helicopter over parliament showed parliamentary staff lined up in a courtyard, clapping and taking photos on their phones as she walked to her car to return to her Downing Street residence for the final time.

She is expected to make a short speech in Downing Street before going to see Queen Elizabeth to formally stand down and recommend Johnson be asked to form a government.

May took over as prime minister in the aftermath of the 2016 vote to leave the European Union and is standing down just over three years later having failed to deliver Brexit, her divorce deal with the bloc rejected three times by a deeply divided parliament.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison)

UK government would accept parliament decision for soft Brexit: Barclay

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Stephen Barclay is questioned by British lawmakers in the Parliament in London, Britain April 3, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Conservative government would accept parliament’s choosing a so-called ‘soft’ Brexit after failing to secure backing for Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal, Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said on Wednesday.

“You are then left with an unpalatable choice, in my view, but a choice nonetheless between either not having Brexit (…)or you end up with what is referred to as a softer Brexit,” Stephen Barclay told a committee of lawmakers on Brexit, when asked on the way forward.

“Ultimately, if that is where the numbers of the House of Commons go, then the government would, in order to bring this to a resolution in the national interest, would accept what the house voted for,” he said.

(Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary; editing by Michael Holden)