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TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario's left-leaning Liberal party is on track to win a fourth straight electoral victory, taking control of the majority of the province's legislature in a surprisingly strong showing, Canadian networks projected on Thursday.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CTV News and Global News all projected a majority government. Premier Kathleen Wynne had previously controlled only a plurality of seats, which meant she needed help from opposition parties to pass key legislation.
Wynne has pledged to ramp up spending to stimulate the economy and to create a provincial pension plan, while slaying Ontario's deficit, C$11.3 billion this year, by 2017-18.
Only days before the election in Canada's most populous province, polls had shown a dead heat between Wynne's government and the austerity-minded Progressive Conservative opposition.
The election is Wynne's first. She succeeded Dalton McGuinty as premier and party leader early last year after he resigned amid a series of scandals, most notably a costly move to cancel the construction of gas-fired power plants in the run-up to the 2011 election.
The Progressive Conservatives' Tim Hudak is facing his second defeat as party leader. He had run on a plan to slash corporate taxes, cut 100,000 civil service jobs, and eliminate the province's deficit by 2016-17, a year earlier in the Liberals.
His economic plan failed to garner traction with voters, particularly his pledge to create 1 million jobs over the next eight years, a plan some economists said included serious mathematical errors.
Reporting by Allison Martell and Cameron French; Editing by Eric Walsh and Jeremy Laurence