Canadians began voting on Tuesday (22 May) in general elections that threaten to unseat Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau after eleven years in power.
Canadians began voting on Tuesday (22 May) in general elections that threaten to unseat Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau after eleven years in power. The polls have forecast that a majority government may not be returned -- and there are fears this may weaken the fight against resurgent separatism in French-speaking Quebec. A record turnout of more than ten million, out of fifteen million eligible voters, was expected at the polls.
SYNOPSIS: Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau arrived early at his constituency in Montreal to cast his vote. Late pre-election surveys showed his Liberal Party, dominant in Canada for all but six of the past forty-four years, exactly tied with the Progressive Conservatives led by relative newcomer Joe Clark. The fifty-nine-old Mr. Trudeau has campaigned on the issue that only a strong central Canada, led by him, can stave off the break-up of Canada threatened by Quebec's push for independence. But the overriding issue was the sharp contrast in the personalities of Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Clark. The Trudeau chairman that so dazzled Canadians in the 1960s seems to have worn off. But political observers say that thirty-nine-year-old Joe Clark does not have a strong public image and many Canadians do not see him as an inspiring alternative to Trudeau.
It is New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent-voting here in his Oshawa constituency - who will be the most likely partner in a minority government. The head of the centre-left party has refused throughout the campaign to name his conditions for supporting either of the two big parties.
The urgent priority for the newly-elected Canadian government will be the forthcoming referendum in Quebec. It will be called by the Separatist Quebeco is government of Rene Levesque on its plans to secede from the 112-year-old Canadian Confederation.