Canadians vote on Monday (today) to determine whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who took office four years ago as a charismatic figure that promises "sunny forms," will remain in power after two major scandals.
Trudeau, 47, the leader of the Liberal Party, was backed by former US Democratic President Barack Obama in the final leg of the campaign and is seen as one of the last remaining progressive leaders among the world's leading democracies.
But he was shaken during the campaign by a black-faced scandal and has been prosecuted for criticism for his handling of a corruption case involving a major Canadian construction company. Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has also had to overcome a sense of fatigue with his government.
His liberals and the main conservatives of the opposition led by Andrew Scheer are competing in a contest, according to opinion polls.
"The truth is that it is a coin toss at the moment," said Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker.
A year ago, no one would have predicted that Trudeau risked being the first prime minister since the 1930s in securing a parliamentary majority and then not winning a second term.
The latest opinion polls suggest that you can avoid that result by a little and could return to office with a minority in the House of Commons of 338 seats. That would still leave Trudeau in a weakened position and in need of support from leftist opposition parties.
Five parties are contesting federal elections in Canada to push key laws.
Despite Scheer's dimpled smile, Trudeau's main rival has proven to be a determined opponent. One of the decisive moments of the campaign was when Scheer attacked Trudeau during the debate in English.
"He can't even remember how many times he put on his black face, because the fact is that he always wears a mask," Scheer said.
"Mr. Trudeau, you are a fake, a fraud and you don't deserve to rule this country."
In his attempt to overthrow Trudeau, Scheer also promises to balance the federal budget and eliminate a "carbon tax" on fossil fuels.
Scheer, 40, although a career politician, is conducting his first campaign as party leader after winning a bitter conservative leadership fight in 2017.
Bumpy Field Trip
The official six-week campaign period has been a hard and winding journey with dirty tactics on both sides.
Trudeau's liberal image, which has defended diversity as prime minister and whose father opened the country to mass immigration, received a heavy blow when images emerged at the beginning of his black-faced campaign in the early 1990s and in 2001.
Trudeau had already been struggling with the consequences of accusations that he pressured his justice minister to help protect the engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Lavalin Group Inc from corruption charges. In August, an important control agency said Trudeau violated the rules of ethics.
Given the fact that none of the main candidates could date a parliamentary majority, it is the smaller left-wing New Democratic Party (PND) or the Quebecois Block separatist that could end up maintaining the balance of power.
Only six weeks ago, both parties seemed to be heading towards the electoral disaster. But the leader of the PND, Jagmeet Singh, and Yves-Francois Blanchet, of the Bloc, have received praise for the campaigns in which they are presented as alternatives to the leaders of the big parties.
"I am a liberal voter for life and I am perplexed with this, mainly because I am really worried about a conservative victory and I am just trying to figure out how to vote strategically," said Kristin Street, 33, strategy manager in a computer game. company, in Port Moody, British Columbia.
Polls open in the Atlantic province of Newfoundland at 1100 GMT and voting ends in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia at 0200 GMT on Tuesday.
EKOS Research pollster Frank Graves said liberals needed a similar participation to four years ago or else conservatives could have an advantage.
"We may well be waiting until the final vote in British Columbia to see who will win on Monday," Graves said.