Canadian PM's party barely holds "safe" seat after strong Liberal challenge
* Expenses scandal hits Conservatives' support in rural district
* Opposition Liberals resurgent under Trudeau leadership
* Four seats contested in Monday's special election
By Randall Palmer
OTTAWA, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ruling Conservatives only narrowly held onto what had been viewed as a safe seat in a district election on Monday after a scandal over Senate expenses hit his party's support.
The Conservatives' slim margin of victory also underlined the resurgence of the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau, the 41-year-old son of the flamboyant late prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who took over the party leadership in April.
The Conservatives' near-defeat in the rural western Canadian province of Manitoba in the special election for the House of Commons will prompt soul-searching in the party, which has held the seat for 56 of the last 60 years, mostly by huge margins.
Harper has been tarnished by a scandal over housing and other expenses claimed by Conservative senators and by an apparent subsequent attempt to cover it up.
The Liberals suffered their worst-ever showing in the last general election in 2011, when they took only fourth place in the Manitoba riding of Brandon-Souris. But under Trudeau, it has catapulted into first place in national polls and came within one percentage point of taking Brandon-Souris on Monday night. Continued...