Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was voted out of office during October elections, including many Parliament officials. Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, a former teacher and seven-year Parliament member, was elected prime minister. Members of his party won 184 national seats, comprising a new majority in Parliament.
Harper attempted to diversity Canada's economy to get away from the anchor of falling oil prices, but his efforts fell short as the economy continued to tumble. The North American nation has long suffered from low oil prices, stifling growth and revenue that the government needed to meet budget obligations. The election results stunned analysts and incumbents, but an increasingly dissatisfied citizenry was all too apparent. Voters forced the Conservative Party into opposition status, displacing the New Democratic Party (NDP) as the primary opposing force. With a new majority, Trudeau and the Liberals have the chance to shake up the political process at home and abroad.
Trudeau's propositions are a far departure from his predecessor, such as withdrawing from ISIS bombing campaigns, tackling climate change and vowing to accept at least 25,000 refugees from Syria and elsewhere by the end of 2015. Harper and Trudeau differ in many respects, but an important difference is that the new Canadian leader is not as concerned with appeasing the United States in the same way as the conservatives. For instance, all signs indicate that Trudeau does not intend to follow Israeli and U.S. policies without question, and he may take a more nuanced approach when it comes to foreign policy. One topic that could place a greater strain on U.S.-Canadian relations is the party's stance on marijuana legalization. Canada plans to regulate and tax marijuana, which would bring in a vital revenue stream for the government, and Trudeau could achieve such a feat with a strong majority in parliament.
Regarding the economy, Trudeau has vowed to incur a deficit for the next three years to pay for infrastructure projects that would stimulate the economy. However, tar sands will be a tricky issue for Trudeau, and even though he supports Keystone XL, it remains to be seen how his view on climate change will affect the project and oil development going forward. For now, Trudeau has no choice but to support the status quo, as oil production remains a crucial aspect of the economy, and analysts note that Canadians prefer balanced policies regarding oil production and environmental protection. The new prime minister has not given any major specifics on oil production and climate change thus far, but the political momentum swings in his favor as the public demands sweeping change.