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Justin Trudeau Remains Canada's Prime Minister Following Reelection By Slim Margin

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

And now to Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has managed to hold onto power after yesterday's election but only by a slim margin. Now he has to figure out how to run the government with a reduced mandate and a divided electorate. From Ottawa, David McGuffin reports.

DAVID MCGUFFIN, BYLINE: It was a tight and, at times, divisive election full of mudslinging and accusations. So when Justin Trudeau stepped up to give his victory speech in the early hours of this morning, he spoke of uniting the country.

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JUSTIN TRUDEAU: And to those who did not vote for us, know that we will work every single day for you. We will govern for everyone.

MCGUFFIN: His message was undercut by the fact that he gave his speech while opposition conservative leader Andrew Scheer was on the air conceding defeat.

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DAWNA FRIESEN: We're all mystified here because Justin Trudeau has walked up on the stage and began to speak at the same time as Andrew Scheer, leaving all of us wondering...

MCGUFFIN: Canadian television anchors like Dawna Friesen were visibly stunned.

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FRIESEN: Justin Trudeau won 155 seats, so more than the conservatives. We're going to listen to him. But really, this is unprecedented. And I can tell you everyone in this studio is shocked.

MCGUFFIN: Bumping the leader of the opposition off of national television while he concedes defeat is a rough start to reconciliation. And Trudeau faces challenges. He's still in power but lost 21 seats across the country and lost the popular vote to the Conservative Party. In the liberal stronghold of Quebec, the separatist Bloc Quebecois War party tripled their number of seats. And Trudeau's Liberals lost every seat they held in the energy-rich western provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Many western voters see Trudeau's climate change fight as hurting their livelihoods in the oil and gas sector. At his first post-election press conference today, conservative leader Andrew Scheer warned of troubling times ahead.

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ANDREW SCHEER: He must be willing to change course - to stop his attacks on the energy sector and to recognize that when western Canada succeeds, all of Canada succeeds.

MCGUFFIN: But without a majority of seats in Parliament, Trudeau will now need to rely on the left-leaning New Democratic Party to govern and their push for much stronger action on climate change. Today, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh spoke of the influence he will now have.

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JAGMEET SINGH: The results of this election - they showed that Canadians now have a historic opportunity to win. And the way they win is this minority government gives us a chance to be able to fight for the things that we've laid out all along this campaign.

MCGUFFIN: What this means for Trudeau is a much more difficult time governing ahead and the very real chance that another election could be called as soon as next year.

For NPR News, I'm David McGuffin in Ottawa.

(SOUNDBITE OF STARS' "THE BEGINNING AFTER THE END") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.