Less than two years after the last federal election, Canadians will head to the polls on September 20. This election, while justified by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is irresponsible and unneeded.
Trudeau was elected in 2019 with a minority government, that was the will of the people at that point in time. The Prime Minister says that the election is to shift his mandate to bringing the country out on the other side of the pandemic. While sending Canadians to the polling booth less than two years after the last election is legal, it is not an acceptable way to pivot the course of the government.
The past minority governments of both Stephen Harper and Paul Martin used the prorogation of Parliament, and a new Speech from the Throne to conduct a similar reset in their government’s mandate. This Parliamentary tradition has been deployed for over 150 years to shift a government’s focus midway through a term. Why wasn’t this done by Trudeau? The answer is political opportunism.
Under Canada’s fixed election date law, the next vote was scheduled to take place on October 16, 2023. Since the pandemic began, five provincial and territorial governments have gone to the polls. Four of those five elections saw the governing party improve on their previous election results, including two governments (British Columbia and New Brunswick) that went from minority to majority status.
At no point during this term of office has Trudeau’s Liberal party lost the confidence of the House of Commons. Parliamentary confidence was tested several times, and his government passed. This included passing a budget during the largest social and economic crisis to impact the country since World War Two.
Is now the right time to hold an election? No. In case Trudeau forgot, Canada remains in the midst of a global pandemic. While COVID-19 case counts have dropped and many activities resumed, life is not back-to-normal. In fact, case counts are now increasing across Canada and public health officials acknowledge that we are in the leading edge of a Fourth Wave of the pandemic. One partly spawned by the rise of the Delta variant.
It is inappropriate to call an election during a crisis unless absolutely needed. Wrapping a blatant attempt to win more seats in the cloak of economic and social recovery plans after the pandemic and saying Canadians need a say now, is poor leadership. This election is unneeded right now and is a reckless political exercise that has long-term implications.