Canadians often grumble about federal elections coming ahead of schedule, as is the case with Monday’s vote. But usually the complaints disappear after the first week of campaigning.
Not this time. With the Delta strain of the coronavirus sweeping many provinces and their governments restoring restrictions or pausing plans to lift them, questions about the wisdom of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election appeal still dominate.
“They’ve struggled throughout the campaign to answer that question,” said Gerald Butts, a longtime friend of Trudeau’s and his former top political adviser. “And that’s part of why they struggle to get the message across.”
While Mr Trudeau carefully avoids the word “majority”, there is no doubt that he wants to take back control of the House of Commons, which he was denied in the 2019 vote, when his Liberal party only won a minority. Since then, he has relied on ad hoc support from opposition parties to push through legislation, which Trudeau says has led to delays in pandemic action.
Chrystia Freeland, the deputy prime minister and finance minister, said this spring the “Covid consensus” among all parties in parliament had been unraveled.
“We really saw that more and more it just wasn’t possible to get the country’s business done,” she said last week during a pause in her one-man campaign across the country. “It was clear to us that in the fall it would become really impossible to keep moving.”
Mr. Trudeau’s opponents do not believe so, noting that all major pieces of Mr. Trudeau’s pandemic legislation have been passed, although several bills died when Mr. Trudeau adjourned parliament for the vote. They have ruthlessly denounced his decision to call the snap elections as unnecessary and potentially dangerous for people going to the polls.
Among the disaffected are the liberals, leading to the possibility that many of them simply don’t vote.