Canadian Israel-friendly Prime Minister Stephen Harper has conceded defeat in regional elections, stepping down and setting the stage for the appointment of an interim leader.
Harper gave his concession speech on Monday following his loss to Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau.
“The disappointment is my responsibility and mine alone,” he said in the speech in Calgary.
His Conservative Party had earlier announced he would step down, which would mean that an interim leader will have to assume office until Trudeau is officially sworn in.
“I have spoken to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and he has instructed me to reach out to the newly elected parliamentary caucus to appoint an interim leader” and start the process of selecting a new leader, Conservative Party president John Walsh said in a statement on Monday.
The Liberal Party won a majority of the parliament’s 338 seats.
Peter MacKay, a former Conservative justice minister, described the result as a “sea change.” “We are used to high tides in Atlantic Canada. This is not what we hoped for,” he said shortly after polls closed in the Atlantic Canada region.
“Canada was built by people from all corners of the world,” Trudeau said in his victory speech, an implicit refutation of some of the Harper administration’s policies, including those against Muslims.
“We believe in our hearts that this country’s unique diversity is a blessing bestowed upon us by previous generations of Canadians. Canadians who stared down prejudice and discrimination in all its forms,” he added.
“We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together,” Trudeau said.
The 43-year-old Liberal Party leader, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has vowed to repair relations with the US, withdraw Canada from the combat mission against the Takfiri Daesh terrorists, and deal with climate change problems.
Canada & Iran
Harper has been widely criticized for his pro-Israel stances.
Harper’s administration severed diplomatic relations with Iran in September 2012, citing, among other pretexts, what it described as continued threats from Iran to Israel.
Back then, the Canadian government closed its embassy in the Iranian capital, Tehran, and demanded that Iranian diplomats leave Canada within five days.
The two countries maintain interest sections in the embassies of third countries.