In boost for Trudeau, Canada Liberals pick up parliamentary seat

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s ruling Liberals won a special election in British Columbia on Monday, picking up a parliamentary seat in a province where insiders had feared the party could lose support in a 2019 federal election.

Provisional results showed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won the constituency of South Surrey—White Rock with around 47 percent of the vote, knocking the official opposition Conservatives into second place, with 42 percent.

The Conservatives had held the seat before the incumbent legislator retired this year.

The result shows strength for the Liberals in British Columbia, where party officials have for some time privately predicted some losses in 2019, in part due to a contentious decision in late 2016 to approve the expansion of a crude oil pipeline to the Pacific coast.

Officials also cite an alleged conflict-of-interest problem involving Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

National polls show that Trudeau - who took office in November 2015 - still enjoys a lead over the Conservatives and would retain power if an election were held now.

It was the second time in six weeks that the Liberals had won a seat from the Conservatives in a special election. In late October, they took the Quebec parliamentary constituency of Lac-St-Jean.

Three other special elections on Monday went as expected, with the Liberals retaining safe seats in Ontario and Newfoundland while the Conservatives easily kept hold of a seat in Saskatchewan.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Clarence Fernandez