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Trudeau rules out coalition as he forms new Canadian government

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday ruled out forming a coalition government despite an election victory that left his Liberals short of a majority.

[OTTAWA] Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday ruled out forming a coalition government despite an election victory that left his Liberals short of a majority.

Mr Trudeau said he would consult with leaders of Canada's other parties on their priorities, and how they might work together.

"They will be varied conversations, but I can tell you it is not in our plans at all to form any sort of formal or informal coalition," he said.

His new cabinet will be sworn in on November 20. Like his first in 2015, Mr Trudeau said it would be made up of an equal number of women and men.

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The Liberals emerged the winners in Monday's ballot, but lost their comfortable majority in parliament after a close race with the Tories.

Official results give the Liberal Party 157 seats in the 338-member House of Commons, down from 177 at its dissolution.

Four years ago, Mr Trudeau, then a rookie leader who waded into crowds to take selfies with adoring young fans, led the Liberals to a landslide win in the last elections.

But his star power has dimmed amid a major ethics scandal and an embarrassing blackface controversy.

The Conservatives won 121 seats but beat the Liberals in the popular vote, taking 34.4 per cent to their 33.1 per cent.

In his first national address since Monday's election, Mr Trudeau said he would speak with leaders of the Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois, New Democratic Party (NDP) and Green Party to sort out a path forward.

"I intend to sit down with all party leaders in the coming weeks to talk about their priorities, about how we can work together to respond to the preoccupations that Canadians have from one end of this country to the other," Mr Trudeau said.

He laid out a few priorities, including tougher climate actions, "a better partnership with indigenous people," and middle class tax cuts.

He vowed also to continue to work with international partners on global warming, economic development, strengthening democracies and other "big issues that matter to everyone."

'A LOT TO THINK ABOUT' 

Mr Trudeau dominated Canadian politics in his first term, but faced a bruising 40-day campaign, which he has described as one of the "dirtiest and nastiest" in Canadian history.

The nation emerged deeply divided, marked by a resurgence of Quebec nationalism and a growing sense in the western provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan of alienation within the federation.

"Canadians gave me a lot to think about," said Mr Trudeau.

"I think many of us regret the tone and the divisiveness and the disinformation that were all too present features of this past election campaign," he said.

"A lot of issues weren't properly addressed" and "big, substantive ideas weren't fully debated," he lamented.

"I regret that."

Going forward, Mr Trudeau said it was important for lawmakers to "work together, to listen to each other, to figure out the right path forward for every part of the country."

The prime minister said he recognized that Alberta and Saskatchewan have fallen behind the rest of Canada.

Canada is the world's fourth largest oil exporter and the two provinces account for most of that output, but their economies are struggling with low prices and a lack of pipeline capacity.

This has fed discontent in the region over Liberal environmental protections and a recent carbon tax to discourage the use of large amounts of fossil fuels.

As a result, not a single Liberal MP was elected from Winnipeg to Vancouver.

"There's a lot of thinking to do on that and a lot of listening," said Mr Trudeau.

Offering an olive branch, Mr Trudeau vowed to press ahead with the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline connecting the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific coast, for shipping overseas.

The construction project was nationalised last year to prevent its collapse under legal challenges and protests.

"We need to get our (oil) resources to markets other than the United States," Mr Trudeau said.

"And then we will be able to invest all profits and revenues into green energy and fighting climate change."

Mr Trudeau will face pushback from the NDP which campaigned against the pipeline, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May whose protest against it in 2018 got her arrested for civil contempt.

He will also have to contend with the back-from-the-dead separatist Bloc Quebecois, and new rumblings of fed-up Alberta splitting from the federation.

"The unity of this country will always be a priority," he said.

AFP