Joseph Perry’s News Crunch: Just-In Time
Joseph Perry crunches the news of Justin Trudeau's election as Prime Minister of Canada
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Justin Trudeau has been elected as the new Prime Minister of Canada. The results of the country’s 2015 General Election were announced in the early hours of Tuesday morning UK time, and came as a surprise to many bearing in mind his opponent, Stephen Harper, had been ahead in the polls just a few weeks ago.
Trudeau is the leader of the Liberal Party, which is the Canadian equivalent of the UK Labour Party, while Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party into the election, having served as Prime Minister for the previous nine years.
In Canada, 170 seats are required for a majority government. The Liberal Party reached a total of 184 seats on Tuesday, giving Trudeau the convincing win that few had forecast at the turn of the year. The Conservatives won 99 seats.
Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre, was also the Prime Minister of Canada. He served between 1968 and 1979, with a second spell from 1980 to 1984. People began to tip Justin to follow in his father’s footsteps after he gave a moving eulogy at Pierre’s funeral in 2000 before he entered politics.
The third Canadian Party, the NDP, had finished ahead of the Liberal’s in a disastrous 2011 election for Trudeau’s party. However, they lost over half of their 95 seats on Monday - finishing with a vastly reduced total of 44.
In September, polls had the Conservatives, the NDP and the Liberal Party neck and neck, before the Conservatives regained the lead until very early October. So Trudeau has only led the polls for a matter of days, but finds himself with a convincing majority government.
His campaign slogan was ‘real change’. He is set to unveil a programme of public reform, including abolishing the unelected upper chamber of the Canadian Houses of Parliament, legalising marijuana, and introducing proportional representation instead of the First Past the Post voting system.
If he achieved the latter, Canada would become one of the first English speaking democracies to use the PR system.
Why does this matter?
If anything, this shows the ever-changing nature of politics. 21 days ago, the Canadian public had braced itself for another four years of Stephen Harper; a man with a very low public approval rate.
Yet they woke up on Tuesday with Prime Minister Trudeau, the leader of the party that had failed so appallingly at the previous General Election.
For the people of Canada, this will mean a huge amount of social reform, and, hopefully, a better and more progressive system of politics. But for the majority of us outside of Canada, it may provide us with plenty of examples of how politics can be done.
The Canadian system of government is very similar to ours. In fact, it is more similar than any other country - their Parliament was built to resemble our one. They have the Head of State, HM Queen Elizabeth II, and two Houses of Parliament - the unelected upper chamber, and the elected chamber of commons.
If Canada were to abolish its House of Lords equivalent, it may clear the path for it to be done here as well. The Canadian upper chamber has been embroiled in a lengthy expenses scandal, again not too dissimilar to ours, which has led the public to turn against it.
There will be a few nervous Lords and Ladies in Westminster after seeing what happened in Ottawa this week.
Canada may also provide us with the best possible case study of proportional representation, and how it can be incorporated into a bicameral system.
Despite all this talk of social and political reform, the biggest explanation for Harper’s downfall and Trudeau’s surge is the drop in the price of oil. Canada’s economy runs on oil, so for the global price to have dropped so quickly over such a short amount of time spells trouble.
The country is on the verge of recession, and Trudeau’s election is proof that people are not satisfied with the government’s efforts to control the economic crisis and are willing to look elsewhere for answers.
In the UK, the economy is not so focused on the price of oil, however there are resemblances to the Canadian problems. In Scotland, oil prices are causing some angst, while the global price of steel is causing problems in Westminster.
The SNP and Tories should be wary of the political cost of this price drop, and manage the current situations as well as possible.
Trudeau’s election is quite remarkable.
For Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton, it will be a sign that the public are willing to look beyond the surname when it comes to choosing its next leader, but that fresh ideas are required in equal measure.
While for Jeremy Corbyn, it will be a sign that, even when the polls are against you and you have so few seats, everything is still to play for.
I look forward to seeing what Trudeau can deliver. His social policies are radical, and it would be impressive to see him follow through on these manifesto pledges.
But the real test of his leadership will be on his management of the oil price crash. Canadians need economic security more than they need weed.
This political earthquake has shaken up Canada, but Trudeau has some work to do before the shockwaves are felt across the world.
To hear Joseph breakdown more of the week’s biggest stories, listen to TeenScope this Sunday at 9pm UK time.