‘Our Brothers, The Taliban’ Minister Loses Seat in Canadian Snap Election

Ecuador's Minister of Economy and Finance Richard Martinez (L) confers with Canada's Minister of International Development Maryam Monsef (R) during a discussion on Venezuela at World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC on April 12, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Trudeau government minister who referred to “our brothers, the Taliban” in the wake of the Biden Afghan retreat has lost her Parliament seat just four weeks later in the Canadian snap election.

Maryam Monsef, a member of the Prime Minister’s Liberal Party and Minister for Gender Equality, was defeated by Conservative candidate Michelle Ferreri in the riding (constituency) of Peterborough-Kawartha in Monday’s vote. Results continue to roll in from the poll, which appears to have delivered another minority government for Justin Trudeau and leaves open the question of yet another snap poll in the coming years.

Former Minister Monsef, who is of Afghan heritage, had previously referred to the Taliban as ‘brothers’ during a press conference held to update the Canadian public on the situation in Afghanistan after the militant Islamic group had taken control of the country.

Monsef’s ousting comes after a rocky election campaign by Trudeau’s Liberal Party. The Canadian Prime Minister had initially sent shockwaves into the Canadian political sphere by calling the snap election, clearly hungry for the absolute majority in parliament he failed to achieve at the 2019 election. Trudeau has since fallen far short of this goal, with projections that the Liberals may only gain a single seat, making a total of 158.

The political cost of this modest gain will also likely be high. While the party will remain in power as a minority government, Trudeau’s cabinet has seen a number of casualties. Along with losing his Minister for Gender Equality, Trudeau at this point has also lost Bernadette Jordan, now ex-minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and may very well lose Deb Schulte, the rural development minister.

These developments are to say nothing of the political capital this fumbled gamble will cost Trudeau. As veteran Canadian political reporter Lorrie Goldstein noted Tuesday, Trudeau is giving the impression of “going backwards” and will now face difficult questions in his own political camp.

While this is clearly a poor result for Trudeau, who gambled on improving on his last fumbled election but ended up with another minority, it is much worse for the Conservative Party challenger Erin O’Toole. Despite being projected to win the popular vote (32.2%), the Conservatives, who under O’Toole have lurched leftwards in pursuit of the elusive centre-ground, are on track to lose two seats. Despite this disappointing performance in an election many believed was his to win, O’Toole has stated he has no intention of resigning.

It has also been a bad day for both the far-left New Democrat Party, as well as the Canadian Green Party. Jagmeet Singh’s NDP are likely to only pick up a single extra seat in the election, while the Canadian Greens were utterly annihilated, with party leader Annamie Paul is set to come in fourth in her own constituency, and the party projected to lose one of its only two seats in the Canadian parliament.

One of the few with reason to smile, in this election was Maxime Bernier’s populist People’s Party of Canada. Despite failing to win any seats —  as expected — with Bernier himself coming a distant second to the Conservative incumbent Richard Lehoux, the party trebled its share of the national vote to over 5 per cent, up from 1.6 in 2019. Bernier’s party had campaigned on an anti-lockdown platform, a stark contrast to both the platform of Trudeau’s Liberals and O’Toole’s conservatives.

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