On Sunday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap federal election after meeting with the country’s Governor-General Mary Simon to dissolve Parliament.
The election comes two years ahead of schedule – with Canadians expected to vote on September 20. For the 49-year-old Liberal leader, the election represents a “pivotal moment” in which Canadians will have a significant say over the country’s future leadership and direction.
Opposition parties have criticized the reason for Trudeau’s decision to hold a 36-day-long election campaign as simply for “political gain.”
Conservative Opposition leader Erin O’Toole remarked that a “leader who cared about the best interests of Canadians would be straining every sinew to secure recovery right now. Instead, Justin Trudeau has called an election.”
O’Toole reiterated his five-point “Canada recovery plan”, which promises to balance federal spending and create one million jobs. He also explained that “Canadians deserve to know what their politicians will deliver” and that “they deserve a government that will keep its word.”
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democrats, blasted Trudeau’s decision to call a snap election as “selfish” because it showed that Trudeau was “fed up” of getting forced by the NDP to provide more financial assistance to Canadians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The timing of the election was also criticized as it came just after the President of Afghanistan fled the country when Taliban insurgents took over the capital, Kabul.
Trudeau insisted that the election would not delay his government’s commitment to evacuate Canadian diplomatic personnel or Afghans who helped Canada’s mission. He also reaffirmed his promise to accept 20,000 Afghan refugees.
Singh also claimed that “everyone across Canada benefited from New Democrats being in Ottawa” and encouraged Canadians to “imagine how much more” the NDP could achieve if more members are elected to Parliament.
During his announcement, Trudeau indicated that the Liberal government would consider imposing mandatory vaccinations for all federal employees. This consequently sparked criticism from Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet, who labelled Trudeau as “very irresponsible” and told reporters in Montreal: “If the threat [of COVID-19] is so great that we need to impose mandatory vaccination, isn’t it too dangerous to also go on an election campaign?”
Similarly, Green Party leader Annamie Paul also denounced Trudeau’s call for an election as it comes just days after the country’s chief Public Health Officer, Dr Theresa Tam, warned that Canada was experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
In the 2019 general election, the Liberals fell short of the 170 seats needed to form a majority government. When the Parliament of Canada was dissolved on Sunday, the Liberals held 155 seats, the Conservatives 119 seats, the Bloc Quebecois 32, the NDP 24, and the Greens 2.
Recent polls now suggest that Trudeau’s Liberal Party is getting closer to winning a majority. His party is consistently leading in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces whilst the Conservatives are holding leads in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
The key issues that voters want to be addressed during the election campaign are primarily, the environment, cost of living, vaccine mandates and the ongoing Afghan refugee crisis.
The summer election will be an important gamble for Trudeau. His party faces a 51% chance of winning a majority and a 43% chance of winning the most seats but without the crucial majority he needs in Parliament. How Trudeau performs in the upcoming federal elections, and whether he will govern in the future, will be up to Canadians to decide on September 20.