Wednesday, August 18, 2021

PM Trudeau calls a pandemic election in Canada

August 15, 2021 - "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. Trudeau's summer push for a majority makes sense in a time of 'urgent change,' Liberals argue....

"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.... That level of support puts them just in range of the 170 seats needed to form a majority government."

August 14, 2021 - "A variant-fuelled fourth wave of the pandemic is pushing COVID-19 case counts to their highest levels in months. Extreme heat and wildfires are threatening the lives and homes of people in British Columbia.All of which has Canadians wondering — why exactly are we having an election right now?... The decision means the minority Liberal government will have spent less than two years in power.... Elections in Canada are supposed to be held on fixed dates every four years, but that legislation doesn't prevent a prime minister from asking for an earlier vote....

"Despite Canada's standing as one of the world leaders in vaccination, some experts warn that an election during a global pandemic is something to be avoided..... 'I don't think having an election right now is a good idea,' said Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Toronto, in an email. He said Canada appears to be on the cusp of a 'brutal' wave driven by the delta variant. 'The campaign and election will likely amplify this wave and voter turnout will probably be dampened due to fear of infection,' Kwong added.

"Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said earlier this month that voting in a pandemic climate can be done safely, although she didn't comment on the risks involved in parties conducting cross-country campaigns.... 

"According to Elections Canada, as many as five million Canadians are expected to vote by mail in the election, compared to fewer than 50,000 in the 2019 vote. Dr. Fahad Razak, a member of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said precautionary measures like mail-in voting and a more spread-out voting period could keep the election safe. He also pointed to recent provincial and territorial elections, which took place without any firm evidence that they were driving transmission rates."

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