| OTTAWA, June 30
OTTAWA, June 30 Justin Trudeau's Liberals picked
up another seat in the Canadian House of Commons on Monday, but
more importantly added to their claim to be the main alternative
to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives ahead of the
2015 general election.
Four vacant House seats were filled in Monday's elections.
The Conservatives held on to two in their stronghold of the
western province of Alberta and the Liberals held one
Toronto-area seat, but seized another Toronto district from
their rivals on the left, the New Democratic Party (NDP).
The NDP had leapfrogged the Liberals in the 2011 election to
become the official opposition under popular leader Jack Layton.
But he died soon afterwards and successor Thomas Mulcair has
struggled to match his popularity.
That has proved particularly true as Trudeau, son of
charismatic former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, surged to the
fore after taking over as Liberal leader last year. Under
Trudeau, the Liberals lead both the Conservatives and the NDP in
Both Trudeau and Mulcair campaigned heavily in the
Trinity-Spadina electoral district in downtown Toronto that
Layton's widow Olivia Chow held until she stepped down to
challenge Rob Ford for mayor of Toronto.
The race became a popularity contest for the two leaders,
and though Trudeau still has far fewer seats in the House, the
result gives him momentum and he will be certain to claim he is
the standard-bearer for those who want to replace Harper.
One of the reasons Harper secured a majority of the seats in
2011 was the split of the vote between the NDP and the Liberals.
Many Conservatives had secretly been rooting for the NDP to hold
its own on Monday in order to keep a lid on Trudeau.
The Liberals were helped in the Trinity-Spadina contest by
the fact that their candidate was high-profile city councilor
Adam Vaughan, who has won his municipal seat with enormous
The next general election is scheduled for October 2015.
(Editing by Ron Popeski)