The Liberals are projected to retain power in a minority government — despite the fact that two of their cabinet ministers are headed for defeat.
"You are sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic and to the brighter days ahead and my friends, that's exactly what we are ready to do," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told supporters in Montreal on election night.
While Trudeau did not win the majority government he wanted, he retains his job as prime minister — but will have to bring at least two new faces to the federal cabinet table.
Liberal Bernadette Jordan was first elected in the Nova Scotia riding of South Shore—St. Margarets in 2015. She was promoted to cabinet in early 2019 and was serving as minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when the election was called.
She was defeated by Conservative Rick Perkins, who ran unsuccessfully in the riding in 2019.
Jordan's time as fisheries minister was marred by a dispute over Indigenous treaty rights to the lucrative lobster fishing industry that went unresolved, leaving her the focus of widespread frustration in a riding where many are employed in the fishing industry.
Maryam Monsef, the candidate for Peterborough—Kawartha who served as the minister of rural economic development in the last Parliament, is projected to lose her seat to Conservative candidate Michelle Ferreri.
At dissolution, the Liberals held 155 seats in the House of Commons, while the Conservatives had 119, the Bloc Québécois 32, the New Democrats 24 and the Green Party two. Five seats were held by Independents.
After a 36-day campaign, CBC is projecting that the Liberals will return to Parliament with 156 seats, the Conservatives with 121, the Bloc with 32, the NDP with 27 and the Greens with two.
Votes are still being counted, many close races are still in play and more than 1.2 million special ballots — most of them mail-in — have yet to be tallied.
Watch: 'You are sending us back to work,' Trudeau says:
Since day one of the campaign, opposition leaders centred their critiques of Trudeau on the election call itself. They described the move to send Canadians to the polls as a cynical and self-interested effort to capitalize on a surging vaccination rate and his response to the pandemic.
When Trudeau announced the election call, he told reporters outside Rideau Hall that Canadians deserve a chance to decide who should guide the country out of the pandemic.
'I hear you,' says Trudeau
Speaking to supporters early Tuesday morning, Trudeau said Canadians have chosen "a progressive plan" to end the pandemic, fight climate change, introduce subsidized child care, implement a housing strategy and work on Indigenous reconciliation.
"I hear you when you say that you just want to get back to the things you love, not worry about this pandemic or about an election, that you just want to know that your members of Parliament of all stripes will have your backs through this crisis and beyond," Trudeau said.
Gerry Butts, the former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said the results vindicated Trudeau's decision to call the election despite his failure to win a majority.
"I think the message Canadians are sending loud and clear is that they like the direction the government is taking the country, but they are not quite sure they want to give anybody carte blanche," Butts said.
According to CBC's Poll Tracker, Trudeau's Liberals started off the campaign with a healthy lead of six points over the Conservatives, who sat at 29 per cent support.
As the delta variant of COVID-19 took hold and case counts rose, those numbers flipped around. By the middle of the campaign, Trudeau's Liberals were trailing Erin O'Toole's Conservatives 34 to 31 per cent in CBC's Poll Tracker.
O'Toole misses chance
That trend started to turn around late in the campaign when Trudeau promised to require that federal civil servants and those travelling by planes, trains or ferries be vaccinated — and Alberta, which opposed mandatory vaccines, was once again forced into lockdown.
O'Toole missed his chance to unseat a prime minister who has faced multiple ethics scandals during six years in office.
O'Toole ran on a plan to boost health care spending, fight climate change, shrink the deficit over 10 years and tighten ethics rules for politicians — an attempt to offer voters a more moderate take on conservatism that ultimately fell short of expectations.
Trudeau offered voters a climate plan that was more ambitious than O'Toole's, a new federal transfer dedicated to mental health, a national child care plan that in five years will provide parents $10 a day child care and a strong stance on mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports.
Despite those campaign promises, Trudeau's Liberals came up short in their bid to secure a majority government that would allow them to implement their agenda unchecked.