What could motivate the Liberals to call a COVID-19 election? – .

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What could motivate the Liberals to call a COVID-19 election? – .


TORONTO – The last time Canada held an election was three months before the country’s first case of COVID-19. Now, while there are enough vaccines in Canada to immunize all who qualify, the pandemic is far from over. Federal public health officials said on Thursday the country is experiencing a fourth wave of infections, so why have sources confirmed to CTV News that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is considering calling an election now?

There are a few key reasons experts cite: the government’s minority status and poll numbers that suggest a majority may be within their grasp.

Not holding a majority of seats in the House of Commons, minority governments historically only last about 18 months, according to Andrew McDougall, assistant professor of Canadian politics at the University of Toronto.

“The backdrop that everyone should keep in mind here is that this is a minority parliament,” McDougall said in a telephone interview this week.

To pass a law, they need the support of the opposition. That hasn’t been a problem lately, with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh vowing not to call an election during the pandemic and instead help support the Liberal government.

“If this was another time, instead of the time of the pandemic, we would normally see the much more aggressive opposition in their threats to topple the government,” McDougall said.

Amid a national crisis like COVID-19, the Liberals have been successful in pushing through laws and stimulus measures to help Canadians and businesses, experts say, leaving opposition parties in a difficult position.

“They were kind of stuck. During the pandemic, there was clearly no public appetite for an election … and it did not serve the interest of the opposition at all to really embarrass the Liberals when they tried to rule by it. , ”McDougall said.

Four of the last six federal governments were minorities, the last before Trudeau being led by the Conservatives and Stephen Harper from 2008 to 2011. Harper’s long minority term was rejected by a no-confidence motion by the opposition in 2011, but the conservatives won the majority of seats. About two-thirds of minority parliaments in Canadian history have sat for less than two years.

As the pandemic recedes, opposition parties should become bolder in their criticism of government and position themselves as being able to do a better job, McDougall says, potentially putting them in a stronger position to force an election when it comes time to go. their choice .

This is why Trudeau wants this election to take place as soon as possible, explains Duane Bratt, professor of political science at Mount Royal University.

“He’s trying to find that great place where people are still happy with the rollout of the vaccine and the income supports, but not so much that we start asking ourselves, ‘How are we going to pay for all of these things? and start looking at other aspects of the Liberal record, ”Bratt said Thursday on the CTV News Channel.

The Liberals hope that calling an election on their own terms will help them win enough seats for a majority that will get them through another four years.

“From a liberal point of view, given the context where they are in a minority position, but they still have all this goodwill going on, [the election] makes strategic sense, ”McDougall said.

Poll numbers suggest a majority is within their grasp, and with Canada among the most vaccinated countries in the world, the Liberals are getting a lot of credit for navigating the pandemic, their vaccine supply efforts and even how they managed to keep the economy stable during the crisis.

“If the election were held today, we would probably have a liberal majority,” Nik Nanos, founder of Nanos Research, told CTV News Channel on Thursday. At the same time, he says, there’s never really a good time to call an election during a pandemic.

“You are basically the hostage of the public health situation whatever the situation. “

Sources have confirmed to CTV News that Trudeau is expected to launch a federal election campaign this Sunday, with the vote scheduled to take place as early as September 20. However, signs of an election have been everywhere this summer: Liberals have lined up their candidates from coast to coast and some MPs have announced that they will not stand for re-election. Social media even ignited with amused speculation that an election was coming when Trudeau shaved his beard and had his hair cut in early summer.

Opposition party leaders, meanwhile, prepared for the announcement, making campaign-style stops across the country, meeting with the public, touting their platforms, planning their travel itinerary and the logistics of the rental of campaign space and transport.

They also tried to portray Trudeau as an opportunist. This week, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole expressed concern that the Liberals are putting political interests ahead of what is best for Canada and ensuring public safety, while Singh wrote on Twitter that calling an election in the midst of a pandemic was “selfish”. The Conservatives are currently about 10 points behind the Liberals, according to Nanos, and must also deal with the NDP, which is closely behind them.

Despite this, much of the Conservative base has wanted an election “since the time Trudeau was re-elected in 2019,” Bratt said.

“It’s a tough argument for O’Toole to argue that now is not the time for an election. “

While the campaign may become difficult if the number of COVID-19 cases increases and measures tighten again, regional elections have already been held during the pandemic, demonstrating how it can be done, and Elections Canada has said he was ready for a pandemic vote. .

It remains to be seen how long the goodwill towards the Liberal government will last. From the possibility of an increase in COVID-19 infections as voters vote in September, to polls showing little public appetite for an election, Trudeau could be taking a risk in many ways by running an election now.

“Not a lot of enthusiasm. I think a lot of people are just recovering from the third wave, trying to see their loved ones, ”Nanos said.

“It will be… an unwelcome intrusion on the summer after the third wave. “

With files from Rachel Aiello of CTVNews.ca Ottawa News Bureau

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