Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 14, 2021
Canada is headed for a federal election on Sept. 20
Canadians will head to the polls on Sept. 20.
Following a meeting with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau this morning, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon approved his request to dissolve Parliament, triggering the issuing of the election writs and formally beginning Canada’s 44th federal election.
The campaign will last 36 days — the minimum campaign length permitted by law.
Opposition parties have argued against an early election call. Canada’s next fixed-date election was set for October 2023.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh went so far as to urge Simon to refuse Trudeau’s request. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Monday he was concerned about holding a campaign during a fourth wave of the pandemic and accused Trudeau of pursuing an election in his own political “self-interest.”
From the podium outside of Rideau Hall this morning, Trudeau pushed back against his critics, saying Canadians deserve a chance to decide who should guide the country out of the pandemic.
“In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want their chance to help decide where our country goes from here?” he said.
“So to the other parties, please explain why you don’t think Canadians should get a choice, why you don’t think that this is a pivotal moment. I’m focused on our real plan. I’m focused on the path forward.”
At dissolution, the Liberals hold 155 seats in the House of Commons, while the Conservatives have 119, the Bloc Québécois 32, the New Democrats 24 and the Green Party two. Five seats are held by independents.
The federal Liberals continue to hold a lead in public polling, capturing 35.6 per cent of public support against 28.8 per cent for the Conservatives and 19.3 per cent for the NDP, according to CBC’s Poll Tracker. That level of support puts them just in range of the 170 seats needed to form a majority government.
The Conservatives say they plan to argue that Canadians can’t afford to trust the Liberals with the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
Reporters asked O’Toole multiple questions about something that is shaping up to be a campaign sticking point: the party’s views on mandatory vaccinations. On Friday, the Liberals announced they would require vaccinations for all federal public servants, air and train passengers.
“Conservatives would like Canadians to be able to make their own decision. We have to educate people, not force them,” O’Toole said.
The NDP, meanwhile, is hoping the work New Democrat MPs did in pushing for more generous COVID-19 aid programs will resonate with Canadians at the ballot box and carry them out of fourth place.
The party also has released a platform which promises universal pharmacare, a guaranteed livable income, free tuition and a wealth tax.
“Justin Trudeau wants to grab power and wants a majority. But why does he want a majority? It’s certainly not because he wants to help more people or help people more,” said Singh from Montreal, where he kicked off his campaign today.
On day one, Trudeau was asked about the evolving situation in Afghanistan as the Taliban enter the capital.
Hours before the official election call, the government announced Canada is shutting down its embassy in Kabul and suspending diplomatic operations in the country.
It also intends to take in as many as 20,000 additional refugees from the war-torn country.
“We are extremely concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and I can assure you that officials and indeed ministers continue and will continue to weigh in on protecting Canadians, getting Canadians safely out of Afghanistan and continuing to step up as Canada has so many times around the world to bring people to safety,” he said.
When an election is called, the federal government enters a “caretaker” mode that limits most major decisions. (CBC)