Prime Minister Justin Trudeau interrupted his liberal minority government on Sunday, arguing that Canadians deserve to have a voice on how to end the fight against COVID-19 and rebuild the shattered economy.
But opposition leaders criticized Trudeau for putting his pursuit of the majority ahead of the health and safety of Canadians, plunging the country into what they called an unnecessary and reckless election just as a fourth wave of the deadly coronavirus is charging. force across the country.
Gov. General Mary Simon accepted Trudeau’s request Sunday morning to dissolve Parliament for a 36-day campaign, the shortest allowed by law, culminating in a vote on Sept. 20.
After addressing Canadians outside Rideau Hall, Trudeau said Canada is at a crucial moment, “perhaps the most important since 1945 and certainly in our lives” and that Canadians must choose how they want to proceed.
“The decisions your government makes at this time will define the future in which your children and grandchildren will grow up,” he said.
“So, at this crucial and momentous time, who wouldn’t want to have a say? Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to help decide where our country is headed from here?”
He challenged opposition leaders to explain why they don’t believe Canadians deserve to have a voice.
Trudeau’s justification for going to the polls just under two years after the last election was met with skepticism. Opposition leaders noted that liberals have been able to pass pandemic aid bills, a throne speech and a budget, surviving every vote of confidence along the way.
“A leader who cares about the best interests of Canadians would be working every sinew to ensure recovery at this time. Instead, Justin Trudeau has called elections,” said Conservative leader Erin O’Toole.
Still, O’Toole said Canadians “deserve to know what their politicians will do, they deserve to know there is a plan, and they deserve a government that keeps its word.”
He promoted his own five-point “recovery plan for Canada” that promises, among other things, to create one million jobs and balance the federal budget in 10 years.
Trudeau says Canadians deserve to have a voice at a crucial moment, sparking the Sept. 20 election. #ItsOurVote #CdnPoli # Elxn44
Launching his campaign in Montreal, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called it a “selfish summer election,” sparked because Trudeau is “fed up” with the new Democrats forcing his government to do more to financially support the nations. people affected by the pandemic and pressure him to impose a tax on the “ultra-rich.”
“It was the new Democrats who provided the help that people needed,” said Singh, who took credit for insisting on more generous emergency aid programs.
“Everyone in Canada benefited from the new Democrats being in Ottawa and I tell people to imagine how much more we could do with more newly elected Democrats.”
Singh also criticized Trudeau for calling elections just as Afghanistan’s president was fleeing the country as Taliban insurgents entered the capital, Kabul.
Trudeau, who announced Sunday that Canadian diplomatic staff are back in Canada, insisted the election campaign will not impede his government’s efforts to evacuate Afghans who assisted the Canadian mission or to accept 20,000 refugees already they have fled Afghanistan.
Liberals are betting that general satisfaction with the government’s handling of the pandemic, a world-leading vaccination rate, and the unprecedented billions distributed in emergency aid programs will propel them past 170. seats needed for a majority in the 338-seat House. The commons.
However, public opinion polls suggest that most are far from safe.
Trudeau pointed out Sunday that liberals will use the issue of mandatory vaccinations, a notion that polls suggest is very popular, as a breach against conservatives.
As an example of the kinds of choices Canadians must make, he pointed to his government’s decision to require mandatory vaccinations for federal civil servants and workers in federally regulated sectors. He noted that Alberta Conservative MP David Yurdiga has called it “tyrannical.”
“Well, the answer to tyranny is to have elections and I think that people who do not agree with this government or who do not agree with this leadership should have the opportunity to make themselves heard,” he said.
But the Québec bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet accused Trudeau of contradicting himself. If the pandemic is so severe that vaccines must be mandatory, Blanchet said, it is surely too dangerous to call an election.
O’Toole accused Trudeau of “trying to divide people” on vaccines. However, he was on the defensive trying to explain why his party does not support mandatory vaccinations and will not require that its candidates get vaccinated twice before they start going door-to-door or attending campaign events.
“(Vaccines) are the fundamental tool to turn the page on COVID-19. We have to try to encourage and have as many people vaccinated as possible and then take reasonable precautions to use other tools to keep all Canadians safe.” He said. Toole said.
Late Sunday night, O’Toole issued a statement proposing an alternative to mandatory vaccinations. He said that a conservative government would have unvaccinated federal employees and that air passengers would pass COVID-19 tests. He also said that federal public servants who are not vaccinated should pass a rapid test every day.
Green leader Annamie Paul launched her campaign emphasizing the need for urgent action on the climate crisis, but also joined the chorus in denouncing Trudeau for calling elections amid the pandemic.
“We are here because the Liberals have decided that they want all the power, that they want a majority and they think now is the best time to get it,” Paul said at a rally at the Toronto Center riding, where she is making her third attempt at win a seat in the Commons.
The election call comes days after Canada’s director of public health, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned that the country is in the midst of a fourth wave of the pandemic. The number of cases has risen steadily in recent weeks, driven by the Delta variant, which is more contagious.
Tam has said that he believes Canadians should be able to vote safely in a pandemic election, as long as public health protocols are followed.
At the time of the dissolution, the Liberals had 155 seats, the Conservatives 119, the Québécois bloc 32, the NDP 24 and the Greens two. There were also five independents and one vacancy.
This Canadian Press report was first published on August 15, 2021.