Canada is the Latest to Reject Liberalism 

paparazzza /
paparazzza /

It was a small but decisive victory for conservatism in one Toronto district’s special election. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stranglehold has loosened in St. Paul, a liberal stronghold for over thirty years. 

The special election pitted Conservative Don Stewart against liberal challenger Leslie Church, and when the dust had settled, Stewart sailed to victory by over 600 votes, 42% to 40%. It’s the first time a conservative has won the district since 1993. 

Canadian historian Robert Bothwell said that liberals had “poured everything they had” into the election, including “mobilizing office staff and bringing ministers down” to fight for the defeated candidate. 

Americans will be all too familiar with the problems that Canada faces under its liberal Prime Minister. Trudeau has destroyed the economy, welcomed unchecked immigrants, legalized marijuana, and implemented a heavy-handed “carbon tax” to fight combat change. Conservatives also point to Trudeau’s failure to support Israel in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and his failure to address rising antisemitism in the country, which boasts a Jewish population of around 11%. 

Stewart announced that the message voters sent to Trudeau was “one of change.” 

The defeat signifies Trudeau’s mounting problems as he struggles to keep Canada under its liberal rule. Bothwell says the election was a sign that Trudeau’s position is “seriously weakened” inside the party. Bothwell notes that division within the party has increased significantly, and the election’s outcome will only worsen it. 

In an uncanny parallel to President Joe Biden, Trudeau has remained adamant that he will continue to lead the party through the next election, even as liberals are falling behind at the polls. Trudeau will face a significant challenge by Conservative Pierre Poilievre in 2025. 

The economy remains the top voter concern in Canada. Canada’s inflation rate edged up in May, prompting uncertainty over the central bank’s upcoming interest rate decision in July. According to Statistics Canada, the annual inflation rate reached 2.9% in May, including a 22.5% increase in Canadian grocery prices compared to May 2020. 

Political science professor Daniel Beland notes that Conservatives have “scored major political points” by blaming Trudeau for the pain felt by consumers, adding that it is a “very ominous sign” for Liberals. 

It’s a further sign that voters around the world are rejecting liberalism. The recent European Union elections marked significant gains for far-right parties across many of the EU’s 27 countries. Their unexpectedly strong performance has unsettled the political establishment in Europe, overshadowed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party, and led French President Emmanuel Macron to announce snap legislative elections in response. 

The resurgence of European political right is not merely symbolic or coincidental. It has been fueled by widespread frustration over the EU’s handling of the migrant crisis, which the right has amplified through online platforms. Additionally, regulations on climate change and other policies perceived as disproportionately affecting rural and less-educated residents have contributed to this discontent. 

Moreover, economic growth in many parts of Europe has remained sluggish since the global recession of 2008, exacerbating dissatisfaction with the current political and economic landscape. Populist or far-right parties currently lead Slovakia and Italy and are also part of ruling coalitions in countries like Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands. 

These results echo the frustrations felt by American voters. However, Council on Foreign Relations Charlies Kupchan notes that Trump supporters are angrier than their European brethren because Europe has a “robust social safety net” that America does not. He explains that “Americans have further to fall,” noting that a job loss in Europe isn’t as financially devastating as losing a job in the U.S.  

Similar to Trump’s supporters in America, the EU’s liberal policies hit rural “middle-class” citizens the hardest. But, unlike the U.S., European youths are more likely to support conservatism over liberalism. 

Biden’s campaign should take a lesson from Trudeau’s stinging loss in Toronto and the recent global victories for conservativism. People are angry, frustrated, and tired of broken promises. Whether Biden will take heed remains to be seen.