Trudeau Gives No Hint of Quitting After ‘Catastrophic’ Seat Loss

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he hears voters’ “concerns and frustrations” and vowed to work hard to address their problems after his Liberal Party suffered a stunning defeat in a special election in Toronto.

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The Conservative Party’s upset victory in the Toronto—St. Paul’s parliamentary race on Monday dealt a substantial blow to Trudeau and his government ahead of a national election expected next year. The results flip a district that has voted Liberal in every election since 1993, showing that even the safest liberal enclaves are up for grabs as Trudeau’s popularity plummets.

The loss will likely raise pressure on Trudeau to step aside before the next election as Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre surges in national polls. The results show that the Conservatives, which typically rely on rural and western districts for support, are now competitive in urban areas that have been key to Trudeau’s electoral success.

“This was obviously not the result we wanted, but I want to be clear that I hear your concerns and frustrations,” Trudeau said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“These are not easy times. And it is clear, I and my entire team, have much more hard work to do to deliver tangible, real progress that Canadians can see and feel.”

The prime minister, who appeared at a media event in Vancouver but didn’t take questions, gave no indication that he’s planning to quit. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters Tuesday that Trudeau is committed to leading the Liberals into the next election.

While the result doesn’t change the balance of power in Ottawa, it was widely seen as an important litmus test for Trudeau. Poilievre’s Conservatives hold a double-digit lead in polling and would be on track to win a majority government if those numbers were to hold up in a national vote.

Monday’s results are “nothing short of catastrophic for the Liberals,” said David Coletto, chief executive officer of polling firm Abacus Data.

If all Ontario ridings experienced the same electoral shift that Toronto—St. Paul’s did on Monday, the Liberals could lose more than 55 seats to the Conservatives in the next election, Coletto estimated.

Many of those are “seats that only a few months ago the Liberals couldn’t even imagine losing to Conservatives,” he said.

The Liberals currently have 155 of 338 seats in the House of Commons.

--With assistance from Brian Platt and Thomas Seal.

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