Brian Mulroney led the Progressive Conservative Party to a landslide victory in Canada's national election last night.
The Tories stunned the long-dominant Liberal Party, winning 211 seats to the Liberals' 40 in the 282-seat Parliament with 97 percent of the vote counted by late last night.
Prime Minister John N. Turner, speaking from a Vancouver hotel, conceded defeat at about 10 p.m. (1 a.m. EDT).
Congratulating Mulroney on an "absolutely convincing victory," Turner said, "The people of Canada have spoken from coast to coast and they are always right."
Shortly afterward, Mulroney, son of an electrician and the first Quebecer to lead the Tories as prime minister, greeted supporters at his campaign headquarters in Baie Comeau, Quebec.
Speaking alternately in French and English, he pledged to rebuild the country's economy and "put Canada back to work." He also promised "a new era of new hope . . . a new day for Quebec."
Voters in almost every sector of the electorate joined in a stinging repudiation of Turner who sought in vain to fashion his own stamp of leadership after succeeding Pierre Elliott Trudeau barely two months ago as head of the nation and the Liberal Party.
Results early today showed that the Liberals barely attained the role of opposition party with their 40 seats in the new Parliament, which opens in a few weeks.
The New Democratic Party lost three of the 32 seats that it had in the last Parliament.
One independent won election and one seat was still undecided.
In French-speaking Quebec Province, the Tories took 61 of 75 seats, a major turnaround from the 1980 election when they won just one election district. Victorious Quebec Conservatives said Mulroney's devotion to organization helped the turnaround.
Mulroney's sweeping victory is comparable to the historic 1958 victory of the late John Diefenbaker, whose Tories won 208 seats in the 265-member Parliament of that time.
Mulroney (pronounced Mul-ROON-ey), who is 45, easily took his own House of Commons district of Manicouagan, in northeastern Quebec.
Turner claimed victory in the Vancouver district where he sought the House of Commons seat. To applause from his supporters, Turner vowed to rebuild the Liberal Party.
The Tory leader, together with his wife, Mila, proved one of the most formidable candidates the Tories have ever fielded. In this century, the Conservatives have been in the leadership less than 20 years.
The remarkable size of the Mulroney victory effectively ends the Trudeau era in Canada's political life.
Mulroney, who gained national prominence as president of an American-owned iron-ore company in Quebec, has said that Canada must improve its economic relations with the United States.
The two nations, the world's largest trading partners, have had disputes over offshore fishing and oil rights, energy prices, and American economic penetration of Canada.
No previous Canadian campaign has been so closely tracked by opinion polls as this one, the 33rd country-wide balloting since Canada became a nation in 1867.
As the campaign wore on, the polls showed the Liberals in trouble almost everywhere across the country. According to final opinion surveys made public during the Labor Day weekend, 50 percent of decided voters planned to vote for the Tories, with the Liberals at 28 percent and the NDP at 21 percent.
The left-of-center NDP's prospects were as unexpected as the Liberals' difficulties.
Earlier this year, the NDP seemed on the verge of extinction as a major party, polling only 10 percent of decided voters. Party leader Edward Broadbent's adroit performance in three nationally televised debates and a TV advertising campaign that many say was one of the most effective ever seen here, accounted for the rise in the party's fortunes.
But the major drama this summer has been the decline of the Liberals under the leadership of the 55-year-old Turner. Since midsummer, the polls have indicated trouble for the Liberals in the key battleground of Ontario Province as well as in their traditional stronghold of Quebec Province.
Yesterday's balloting, which took place in cool, end-of-summer weather across much of Canada, concluded one of the most unexpected turnarounds in recent Canadian politics.
Just two months ago, after Turner easily captured the Liberal Party leadership post and succeeded the retiring Trudeau as prime minister, he and the Liberals held a 10-point lead over the Tories in national opinion polls.
Turner, who had waited in the wings for almost a decade, seemed poised to claim the country's leadership in his own right, the goal of a lifetime devoted largely to national politics.
But his image tarnished quickly during his brief tenure as leader. Although he had promised "new leadership" as part of a revived Liberal government, his Cabinet was dominated by Trudeau holdovers. He compounded his trouble by doling out lucrative patronage jobs to a number of long-time Trudeau stalwarts.
Turner claimed he had no alternative, but Mulroney jumped on the patronage issue, drawing cheers at rallies across the country by joking of Turner's appointments that "the devil made him do it."
Turner drew a flurry of adverse publicity when, on two nationally televised occasions, he patted the behinds of two prominent women Liberal leaders. He apologized, but the damage was done.
Turner did poorly in the televised debates, displaying a stiff style and humorless delivery that continued throughout the campaign, earning him the nickname of "the Ice Man."
Meanwhile, Mulroney polished an already smooth speaking style in both French and English. He emphasized his training as a labor lawyer-negotiator and promised to improve the strained relationship of the federal government in Ottawa with the 10 provinces. Under Trudeau the estrangement, especially of the western provinces, became more pronounced.
By last month, the Liberal lead had evaporated and Turner faced an uphill battle. After 16 years of domination by Trudeau, who had a well-known disregard for party organization, the Liberals were ill-equipped for the rigorous campaign that lay ahead.
Although both parties were limited by law to spending about $6 million apiece, the Tories ran a far smoother campaign.
This reflected Mulroney's impact on the party in the year since he wrested control from Joe Clark. Clark had carried the Conservatives to power in Parliament in the 1979 election, but he fumbled the leadership job and, after less than a year, was forced to call the 1980 election -- which Trudeau won.
Few ideological differences separated Mulroney and Turner. Both stressed fiscal conservatism; the need to deal with the federal deficit, which is now running about $10-billion a year; and the importance and of improving Canadian relations with the United States. Both strongly endorsed expensive Liberal social welfare programs and vowed to uphold Trudeau's commitment to bilingualism.
Like Trudeau, Mulroney and Turner are fluent in the languages of the "two solitudes," as Canadians call their largely separate populations of English-speaking and French-speaking citizens.