Canada's Liberal Party has decisively won a general election, ending nearly a decade of Conservative rule.

The centrist Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, started the campaign in third place but in a stunning turnaround now command a majority.

Mr Trudeau, the 43-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, said Canadians had voted for real change.

Incumbent Conservative PM Stephen Harper accepted defeat and his party said he will step down as leader.

It was the longest campaign in Canada's history, and had been thought to be much closer.

Speaking after the polls closed, Mr Harper said he had already congratulated Mr Trudeau, saying the Conservatives would accept the results "without hesitation".

Addressing his jubilant supporters shortly afterwards, Mr Trudeau said that Canadians "sent a clear message tonight - it's time for a change".

 

"We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. Most of all we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less.

"This is what positive politics can do," he said, also praising Mr Harper for his service to the country.

Few had predicted a Liberal victory on this scale. They look set to win 184 seats, a huge increase from only 36 that they held after suffering their worst-ever election result in 2011.

They become the first party ever to move from third place in parliament to a majority in one election.

Meanwhile, the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) is on course to win 44 seats, less than half the number they held in the outgoing parliament.

"I congratulated Mr Trudeau on his exceptional achievement," said NDP leader Tom Mulcair.

 
Media captionJustin Trudeau: 'It's time for a change'
Conservative Party supporters watch election results in Calgary
Image captionIn contrast to the Liberals, there was not much to celebrate for Conservative Party supporters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Democratic Party supporters react to election results in Montreal
Image captionThe New Democratic Party - which finished second in the 2011 elections - is now a distant third

Early counts in the eastern provinces gave the Liberals their first taste of victory, as they led in all 32 races there.

As the results began pouring in, former Conservative Justice Minister Peter MacKay said: "A sea of change here. We are used to high tides in Atlantic Canada. This is not what we hoped for."

The Conservatives are now in danger of losing all 13 seats they held in Atlantic Canada in 2011.


Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Montreal

It was a night of superlatives for the Liberals in Canada. For only the second time in history, a party has gone from third place in parliament to first.

At Liberal Party headquarters in Montreal, the mood has gone from excitement to pure jubilation, as the crowd cheers win after improbable win.

"I'm so excited," said Karyn Decore, who flew in from Edmonton - another conservative Alberta city that could send a Liberal to parliament - for Monday night's party.

"I could feel in my heart that change was coming. This is history in the making."

The Liberals control more seats in Quebec than they've had in a generation, dealing a crushing blow to the formerly ascendant left-leaning New Democratic Party.

They won at least one race in the Conservative fortress of Calgary, hometown of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for the first time since 1968.

Justin Trudeau campaigned as a candidate of change, and his party is poised to hand the incumbent Conservatives one of the worst defeats in their history.


Mr Trudeau campaigned on a promise of change, urging voters ahead of the polling day to "come together as a country".

Mr Trudeau's charismatic father, Pierre, is considered the father of modern Canada.

Mr Harper, 56, portrayed himself as the steady hand who could steer Canada's troubled economy back on track.

His campaign ran TV advertisements saying that Mr Trudeau was "just not ready" to take office.

A man who was shot and killed by police in Quebec after he struck two members of the Canadian military with his car had become radicalised, according to senior officials.

Quebec police shot the man after two members of the military were struck by the motorist in a parking-lot mall near Montreal on Monday.

The 25-year-old man from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu died a few hours after being shot.

Lieutenant Michel Brunet of the Quebec provincial police said earlier that police ended up shooting the man after a car chase in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, southeast of Montreal.

After the man hit the two soldiers with his vehicle in the parking-lot mall, he fled in his vehicle, prompting a police chase that ended with the man losing control and his car rolling over several times.

Brunet said the man exited the car and was shot.

He said they found a knife on the ground but he could not say if he had the knife in his hand when police fired their weapons.

Police said one of the soldiers was seriously injured, while the other's injuries are less serious.

Brunet said he did not know if the soldiers were wearing uniforms at the time they were struck.

Harper briefed

Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for the Canadian prime minister, said Stephen Harper was briefed on Monday about the incident by the head of Canada's national police force, the head of the military and his national security adviser.

The "federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalised", MacDonald said.

He said the suspect was known to domestic anti-terrorist police.

Both police and Harper's office declined to provide further details, citing the investigation.

Harper said earlier on Monday in parliament that he was aware of the reports and called them "extremely troubling".

"First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families; we're closely monitoring the situation and obviously we will make available all of the resources of the federal government," Harper said.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has urged supporters to carry out attacks against Western countries, including Canada, that are participating in the US-led coalition battling the fighters who have taken over large expanses of territory in Iraq and Syria.

It was not known whether the suspect in the Quebec attack had any ties to armed groups.