Scandal-scarred Trudeau projected to win re-election as Canada's prime minister

Late in the campaign, Justin Trudeau's campaign was rocked when images of him in brownface and blackface as a young man resurfaced.

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By Daniel Arkin and Alex Johnson

Justin Trudeau has won a second term as prime minister of Canada, overcoming recent scandals that had tarnished his standing as a leader of progressive politics in an age of growing right-wing nationalism, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and other major Canadian networks projected Monday night.

Official results won't be announced until all votes are accounted for, but based on ballots already reported, the CBC, CTV News and Radio Canada projected that Trudeau's Liberal Party would win enough seats in the House of Commons to be able to form a minority government.

Under a minority government, the Liberals would have to join with a smaller party to pass legislation in the House of Commons.

"To my fellow Canadians: It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve you for these past four years," Trudeau told supporters Monday night. "And tonight, you’re sending us back to work for you."

Trudeau also told those who did not vote for his party that "we will work every single day for you — we will govern for everyone."

Trudeau, 47, scored a far more commanding victory in 2015, ending the Conservative Party's nine-year grip on power. In 84 years, a first-term prime minister with a parliamentary majority has never lost re-election. That was true for his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who won re-election as prime minister in 1972 and served for more than 15 years in two separate stretches.

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In recent years, Justin Trudeau has positioned himself as a champion of progressivism in the era of Donald Trump and the ascent of far-right populism in Europe. Rolling Stone once dubbed him the "North Star" of the free world. He has welcomed Syrian refugees, pushed for gender parity in Cabinet positions, legalized assisted suicide and vowed to tackle gun violence, among other rebuttals to the rightward tide through much of the West.

But last month, Trudeau's campaign was roiled by scandal when images of him in brownface and blackface makeup as a young man resurfaced. He apologized, telling reporters in September that his behavior was "unacceptable." The prime minister's prospects took a hit, and the scandal undercut his image as a champion of racial diversity and ethnic inclusivity.

Trudeau's standing was also weakened earlier this year after his former attorney general claimed that he pressured her to stop prosecuting a top engineering company in Quebec. Trudeau insisted that he was protecting Canadian jobs, but the appearance of impropriety nonetheless dented his reputation.

President Barack Obama, perhaps perceiving that Trudeau was politically endangered, last week made an unprecedented endorsement by a former U.S. president, calling on Canadians to give Trudeau a second term and advocating for his brand of progressive politics. "I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term," Obama tweeted last Wednesday.

Trump tweeted his congratulations to Trudeau for "a wonderful and hard fought victory" Monday night.

"Canada is well served. I look forward to working with you toward the betterment of both of our countries!" Trump said in the message.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, 40, was widely seen by his own party as a mild-mannered and drama-free alternative to Trudeau, who enjoys international celebrity status. Scheer, 40, has derided Trudeau as inauthentic and blasted him over the brownface and blackface scandal.

The Conservative Party leader's supporters reportedly chanted "Lock up him!" at a rally Saturday, echoing the "Lock her up!" chant that has become a common refrain at Trump's rallies. Scheer attempted to calm the raucous crowd, encouraging them to instead chant "Vote him out."

Opposition New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh says he has congratulated Trudeau and will be a constructive participant in the new Parliament, the Associated Press reported.

Because the Liberals are poised to fall short of a majority they will have to rely on an opposition party to stay in power, and Trudeau is expected to rely on the leftist New Democrats for support at times to pass legislation.

Phil Helsel contributed.