Less than two years after Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party won a minority government, Canadians are being asked to go back to the ballot box in a federal vote, while at the same time, still dealing with the pandemic and a fourth wave.
Trudeau met with Governor General Mary Simon at Rideau Hall Sunday morning to seek her permission to dissolve Parliament.
Election day is Sept. 20, which means a 36-day campaign, the shortest allowed by law.
Minority governments rarely last four years. The fixed election date is Oct. 2023, but the government is not bound by that.
The Liberals currently 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.
In this area, the federal map is Conservative blue. In the last election, the Conservatives won in Barrie-Innisfil, Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, York-Simcoe, Simcoe North, Simcoe-Grey and Parry Sound-Muskoka, with the victor in each riding except BSOM taking more than 40 per cent of the vote.
Prior to the election call, the Conservatives and NDP slammed the government’s decision to go to the polls during a pandemic.
Trudeau addressed the elephant in the room when he met with reporters following his discussions with Simon, praising the efforts of Canadians during COVID-19.
“Just look at what Canadians did in this time of crisis, in this time of uncertainty. When this pandemic struck, Canadians dug deep,” said Trudeau. “You put on your mask to keep your neighbours safe, and you followed public health rules, stayed home and supported our frontline workers, and you rolled up your sleeves to lead the world in vaccinations.”
Trudeau faced numerous questions from the media as to why he called the vote after he stated multiple times a pandemic election was not in the cards.
“The decisions your government makes right now will define the future your kids and grandkids grow up in. So 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? Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against COVID-19 and build back better,” Trudeau said.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said this election is about who Canadians trust to secure their economic future, and secure the future for all Canadians.
“We need a strong economy to support high wages for workers and get infrastructure built. We need a strong economy so that today’s Canadians can have confidence that tomorrow will be brighter for the next generation,” said O’Toole.
“Canada’s Conservatives have a detailed plan to get the economy surging in the right direction, for all Canadians, from every walk of life, so that we can continue to invest in our services and our healthcare.”
He said Canada’s recovery plan includes recovering the one million jobs lost during the pandemic, and to secure the economy by balancing the budget over the next decade.
O’Toole stressed at his campaign launch that the Liberals cannot be trusted to manage the economy.
“This election is not about the next week, the month, or the next year. It’s about the next four years. It’s about who will deliver the economic recovery Canada needs,” he explained.
“It’s about who will take action to protect Canadians from spiralling living costs, from rising taxes, from poorer services.”
The NDP is out of the gate with a platform which includes free tuition, a guaranteed livable income and universal pharmacare.
Days before the election call, leader Jagmeet Singh called out Trudeau’s plan for a September vote and said it would be “selfish” as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the country.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Thursday that it is possible to hold a safe election campaign if public health guidelines are followed such as wearing masks and social distancing.
Since the start of the pandemic, voters have gone to the polls in New Brunswick, British Columbia, Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.