Canadians head to polls, Justin Trudeau fights to retain power in tight race with Andrew Scheer
(Photo by Don MacKinnon / AFP)

Ottawa [Canada]: Canadians headed to polls on Monday (local time) to vote in a tight race being seen as a litmus test for the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Polling stations on the eastern side of the country opened at 8:30 a.m. (local time), Al Jazeera reported.

After winning a strong majority in 2015, Trudeau is now hoping for a second term but polling indicates a neck-and-neck fight between his Liberal Party and Andrew Scheer's Conservatives. The New Democratic Party (NDP) and Bloc Quebecois also saw surges in popularity last week, meaning they could steal seats from the two main parties.

The Canadian Parliament has 338 seats and the party that wins the majority of those seats - 170 or more - forms a majority government and can easily pass legislation. But the polls predict no party will win a majority this election. In that scenario, the parties must team up to form a government and pass legislation.

In the last 40 days, party leaders crisscrossed the country talking to voters, focusing on regions where support could swing in their favour - especially Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. In the final 24 hours, party leaders flocked to Vancouver to make their final pitches. Trudeau cast his ballot in Papineau riding in Montreal, a district he has held since 2008. His son Hadrian helped him put his ballot in the box.

Meanwhile, Andrew Scheer told voters, "We want Canadians to send Conservative MPs to Ottawa so we can start the work to undo the damage that Justin Trudeau has caused, to return to balanced budgets, to lower taxes and help Canadians get ahead." During the last elections, the Liberals had swept Toronto and are winning every district in what was dubbed the "red tide". This election, the Conservatives are closing in on Liberal territory in the suburbs, while the NDP is fighting Liberal candidates in the downtown area.

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