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‘It hasn’t sunk in yet’: Liberals react to majority win

Few people were more surprised than Canada’s Liberals as broadcasters declared a majority victory for the party.

“We knew we were going to win, but I didn’t expect what happened,” said Mahmud Shafial.

“I’m proud. I’m happy,” he said.

The 53 year-old party supporter immigrated from Bangladesh in 1983. Since then, he said, the Liberals have done a lot of good things for immigrants.

“I knew Justin Trudeau’s father, too. He was an amazing man. Hopefully his son will be the same way.”

In his victory speech in front of crowds of young volunteers, Trudeau affirmed his support for a diverse Canada – an implicit rebuke to what he’d called the Conservatives’ “divisive” focus on the niqab and “barbaric” cultural practices.

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“We know in our bones that Canada was built by people from all corners of the world, who worship every faith, who belong to every culture, who speak every language,” he told the crowd.

“I’ve always known this. Canadians know it too. If not, I might have spoken earlier this evening and have given a very different speech.”

Young people at Trudeau’s rally said the election was historic – and in some ways it was. The 184 seats that the Liberals received by early Tuesday morning are more than the party has managed to win since the Chretien years, though the addition of 30 new ridings certainly helped.

After the party swept the Atlantic region, a Trudeau victory was announced early in the evening, less than half an hour after polls closed in central Canada.

Liberal headquarters was filled with young volunteers who cheered loudly as Liberal victories were announced in ridings across Canada.

“We didn’t expect that it would be that fast but we’re very happy,” said party volunteer Winston Chan, who said that it marked a “generational change.”

“I think it’s a historic moment,” he said.

READ MORE: Real-time election results

Ali Zia agreed. The 27 year-old volunteered on Rachel Bendayan’s campaign against NDP leader Tom Mulcair in Outremont.

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“Harper’s been in government since before I could vote. So this is the first time with a new PM, new government,” he said. “We’ve only known one government for so many years, for almost a decade. So for us, it’s a change, it’s a government change.”

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Liberal supporters embrace as a majority is declared on election night. Leslie Young / Global News
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Liberal volunteers Ali Zia and Stephanie Bernier at Liberal headquarters on election night. Leslie Young / Global News
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Liberal supporters snapping pictures at party headquarters. Leslie Young / Global News
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Liberal supporter Lesley Reade at Justin Trudeau's headquarters on election night 2015. Leslie Young / Global News

“Honestly, I just wanted Harper gone,” said 37-year-old supporter Lesley Reade. “I was feeling like anything is possible.”

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The Liberals, in early results, appear to have won a majority government. They swept Atlantic Canada, and are leading in most of the vote-rich Greater Toronto Area.

Trudeau went into the election an underdog with far less political experience than his two major rivals. He entered formal politics in 2008, defeating a Bloc Quebecois incumbent in the riding of Papineau to win a seat in Parliament. He became Liberal leader in April 2013.

But in many ways, Trudeau has been politically involved his whole life.

He was born while his father Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister and he spent the first 13 years of his life at 24 Sussex Drive – with a brief interlude at Stornoway during the Joe Clark years.

Upon leaving politics for good in 1984, the elder Trudeau took his three sons to live in Montreal. Justin Trudeau attended school in Montreal and eventually obtained a literature degree from McGill University and an education degree from the University of British Columbia. He taught French and math in Vancouver after graduation.

Justin returned to the public eye when his father died in 2000, delivering a memorable and emotional eulogy at the state funeral, broadcast nationwide.

After his father’s death Trudeau became more involved with the Liberal party – chairing various party functions and task forces, culminating in his run for office and later, party leadership.

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That famous last name may have helped kickstart his political career, but it also provided an easy avenue for criticism.

Since becoming leader, Trudeau has faced incessant attacks from his political rivals – most famously, the series of “Just Not Ready” ads from the Conservatives, which painted him as a gaffe-prone pretty boy, and another ad that showed him taking off his shirt at a charity fundraiser, set to circus music, with his name in sparkly fonts, saying he was “in over his head”. More seriously, he was later derided for voting for a terror bill he didn’t support. But Trudeau’s profile rose throughout the campaign, aided by generally strong performances at leaders’ debates, overriding lingering criticisms that he lacked substance.

Trudeau’s wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, a former television broadcaster, was a prominent fixture on the campaign trail. The couple has three young children: Xavier (8), Ella-Grace (6) and Hadrien (1).

Follow Global News’ live election coverage here.

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