Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared poised to form a minority government after his party won the most seats in the Oct. 21 federal election while failing to secure a clear majority.
The split decision is expected to be neutral for Canada's crude oil industry, which has been fighting low prices caused by a lack of access to export markets.
Trudeau's ruling Liberal Party of Canada was elected or leading in 156 battles for the 338 seats that make up the national government as of 1 a.m. ET, according to preliminary results from Elections Canada.
The number is short of the 170 required for a clear majority and well short of the 177 seats the Liberals held when Parliament was dissolved for the election. The Conservative Party of Canada, which appeared to lead in the popular vote, were successful in 122 ridings, compared with 95 prior to the election. The separatist Bloc Québécois, a Quebec-only party led by Yves-François Blanchet, had the biggest gain of the night, more than tripling its number of seats from 10 to 32.
Trudeau will now ask Governor General Julie Payette, the Queen of the United Kingdom's representative in Canada, to be allowed to form a government. By parliamentary tradition, the Liberals would be given the opportunity to govern, although they could be ousted if a majority of opposition members voted against it in a so-called confidence motion. Minority governments rarely last a full four-year term, and they must tread carefully around controversial issues that could unite opposition parties.
In a victory speech more suited to a majority win, Trudeau vowed to continue with the climate change agenda and improving relationships with the First Nations that he touted throughout the campaign. Although the campaign was divisive, and each party's results appeared to split along geographic lines, Trudeau said he would work for all Canadians, even those who did not vote for him.
"To those who voted for our party, thank you for putting your trust in our team," Trudeau said from Montreal shortly after 1 a.m. ET. "To those who did not vote for us, know that we will work every single day for you. We will govern for everyone."
On oil and gas issues, Trudeau has supported the expansion of government-owned Trans Mountain Corp.'s pipeline linking the oil sands region of Alberta with a marine terminal on British Columbia's Pacific coast. He also supported Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 expansion, which has been completed in Canada but remains bogged down in regulatory issues in the U.S. Trudeau lost ground in both Alberta and British Columbia, where the pro-oil Conservatives and anti-pipeline New Democrats made gains respectively.
Minority governments are not uncommon in Canada. The Conservatives formed consecutive minority governments between 2006 and 2011, both of which lasted around two-and-a-half years. In 2011, Harper was returned with a majority and subsequently defeated by Trudeau in 2015.
In addition to the combined 310 seats that the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois appeared to win, the socialist New Democrats under leader Jagmeet Singh slipped to 24 seats from 39, while the Green Party appeared to have three candidates elected. Green Leader Elizabeth May was the party's sole elected member in the previous government. Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was fired from her job as Minister of Justice and Attorney General by Trudeau, appeared to be set to become Parliament's sole unaffiliated member.
Andrew Scheer, who will remain leader of the Official Opposition, Blanchet and Singh contacted Trudeau as the election results rolled in, according to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. All three leaders in separate statements said they would work to protect party interests in the new government. None of them threatened a no-confidence vote.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted congratulations to Trudeau and said he looked forward to working with him.