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Justin Trudeau's Liberals have won a key by-election in remote northern Canada, officials announced Tuesday, in a first blow to the ruling Tories since he took over his father's embattled party.
The contest, pitting Canada's first Innu cabinet minister against a Liberal veteran who jumped from provincial to federal politics, was closely watched for signs of what may follow in the next general election, likely in 2015.
It was seen as a test of Trudeau's salability as the eldest son of late prime minister Pierre Trudeau seeks to resurrect a party that held power for most of the last century but was relegated to the margins as the country's number three grouping in the last election.
With all of the polls in, Liberal Yvonne Jones was declared the winner of the Labrador by-election with 48.2 percent of 12,059 votes cast, beating Conservative incumbent Peter Penashue with 32.5 percent.
The official opposition New Democratic Party candidate came in third.
"We have demonstrated that the Liberal message of hope and hard work is resonating," Trudeau said in a statement.
The former school teacher had campaigned feverishly for Jones since being elected Liberal leader by a landslide at a party convention in April.
In 2011, the Liberals won just 35 out of 308 seats in parliament.
Trudeau was elected to the House of Commons in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. Liberals hope his youth and famous name can revitalize the party in time to challenge the Conservatives in the next election.
Nationwide polls show Trudeau leading Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives.
The Tories put a different spin on the Labrador result.
"When this by-election was called, the Liberals had a 43-point lead in the polls. Since electing Justin Trudeau as leader and having him personally campaign there, they have dropped 20 points in Labrador," Conservative party spokesman Fred DeLorey said.
"Labradorians were able to see first-hand how Justin Trudeau is in over his head."
The by-election was prompted by Penashue's resignation in March over illicit donations to his 2011 election campaign.
The then Tory intergovernmental affairs minister had faced opposition attacks for months over allegations of overspending on the campaign and accepting illegal contributions from corporations.
Penashue blamed errors in filings to the elections overseer on "an inexperienced volunteer" in his campaign office.