A victorious Prime Minister Brian Mulroney Tuesday said Canada had chosen the road to free trade with the United States and claimed a mandate to enact a controversial U.S.-Canada trade pact.
"Conservative Majority; Voters Back Trade Deal," the Globe and Mail, which calls itself Canada's national newspaper and had endorsed Mulroney's Progressive Conservative Party, said in its banner headline.The Toronto Star, which had bitterly criticized the trade agreement, said in an editorial that the "people of Canada have spoken convincingly.
"With this historic mandate, Mulroney assumes an awesome responsibility: Canadians have put their future and that of their children in his hands."
Voters returned Mulroney to office with 169 seats in the 295-seat House of Commons. He said he would call legislators promptly into session to pass the bill.
Mulroney told a midnight rally in Quebec that Canadians have "indicated the road they wish to follow. Now it is a time for healing in the land."
He defeated two rivals who based their campaign on oppositiion to the trade pact Mulroney signed with President Reagan. They claimed Mulroney's free-trade program would subordinate Canada to the United States and ultimately rob Canada of its sovereignty.
In Port Clear, Ala., President-elect George Bush said he welcomed the Mulroney victory, with whom he said he had a "special kind of friendly personal relationship."
Mulroney's victory "was most interesting because to a degree it was a referendum on getting the free-trade agreement through," Bush told 20 Republican governors and two governors-elect at a meeting.
Official figures with 95 percent of the vote counted showed the opposition Liberal Party led by John Turner with 82 seats, more than double its 40 of four years ago, and the socialist New Democratic Party of Ed Broadbent with 44 seats, up from 30
The popular vote broke down to about 43 percent for the Conservatives, 32 percent for the Liberals and 20 percent for the New Democrats, with the turnout at about 75 percent of the 17.5 million eligible voters.
The Canadian Press news agency said the Conservatives had 5.4 million votes, the Liberals 4.05 million and the New Democrats 2.4 million.
The Canadian dollar, which had been jittery throughout the campaign as investors hesitated at a possible Conservative defeat, surged on international markets to trade at more than 83 cents.
The Conservatives saw their power erode somewhat in the newly expanded 295-seat House of Commons. They won 169 races on Monday as compared to 211 out of 282 seats in the 1984 election.
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