Trudeau stages stunning victory in Canadian election

Canadian dollar falls post-election

Canada's Liberal party, led by Justin Trudeau, has won a stunning election victory, toppling the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a a promise of change and returning a touch of glamor, youth and charisma to Ottawa.

The win ends the Conservatives' nine-year run in power and reflected a political shift away from Harper's brand of fiscal and cultural conservatism. The Conservatives are projected to become the official opposition in Parliament, with the left-leaning New Democratic Party in third.

The Liberal win smashed the record for the number of seats gained from one election to the next. The party had been a distant third place party in Parliament before this election.

Harper, 58, conceded defeat, and the Conservative Party issued a statement saying the outgoing PM had asked the party to elect a new interim leader.

Trudeau, 43, the photogenic son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has pledged to run a C$10 billion annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canada's anemic economic growth.

This rattled financial markets ahead of the vote and the Canadian dollar weakened on news of his victory, although analysts said they did not expect the currency effect to be long term.

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He has also said he will repair Canada's cool relations with the Obama administration, withdraw Canada from the combat mission against Islamic State militants in favor of humanitarian aid, and tackle climate change.

Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie greet supporters in Montreal after winning the election win.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

The win marks a swing toward a more multilateral approach in global politics by the Canadian government, which has distanced itself from the United Nations in recent years.

"When the time for change strikes, it's lethal," former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said in a television interview after the result. "I ran and was successful because I wasn't Pierre Trudeau. Justin is successful because he isn't Stephen Harper."

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Trudeau, a former teacher, took charge of the Liberal party just two years ago and guided it out of the political wilderness with a pledge of economic stimulus and stirring appeals for a return to social liberalism.

Born to a sitting prime minister who came to power in 1968 on a wave of popular support dubbed "Trudeaumania," Trudeau will become the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history and brings an appeal more common in movie stars than statesmen.

Pierre once jumped from a trampoline into the crowd. With boyish good looks, Justin thrusts himself into throngs and puts his hand to his heart when listening to someone. Selfie requests are so common he happily takes the camera and snaps the photo himself, often cheek to cheek. He is the married father of three young children.

Criticized for being more style than substance, Trudeau has used attacks on his good looks and privileged upbringing to win over voters, who recalled his father's rock-star presence and an era when Canada had some sizzle on the world stage.

Pierre Trudeau, who died in 2000, was in power for 15 years - with a brief interruption - and remains one of the few Canadian leaders to be known abroad.

Single when he took power, the elder Trudeau dated movie stars and models before marrying. He had three boys while prime minister, the eldest of whom now succeeds him in the nation's top office.

The Trudeau victory weakened the Canadian dollar. Financial market players had praised the Conservative government for its steady hand in economic management, which had spared Canada the worst of the global financial malaise.

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Trudeau has pledged to run small budget deficits and spend on infrastructure to stimulate economic growth, which has been anemic for years. He has also promised to raise taxes on high-income Canadians and reduce them for the middle class.

Political pundits have already began to speculate on the makeup of a Trudeau government while pondering what caused the downfall of Harper, 56, who has been criticized for his aloof personality but won credit for economic management in a decade of global fiscal uncertainty.