Canadians weren’t supposed to head to the polls until October 2023.
That would have been the time for the next regular election following the 2019 ballot.
However, in a push for a majority government, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a snap election on September 20, 2021.
The campaign and vote come as Canada battles with a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.
Trudeau triggered the snap election on August 15, finally ending longrunning speculation about an election this year.
Trudeau and his Liberal Party won a majority government in 2015.
However, they were relegated to a 157-seat minority government in the last election in 2019.
Trudeau appears to have sensed that he can get another majority amid perceptions that the opposition Conservative Party is weak.
“In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want a chance to help decide where our country goes from here? Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against COVID-19 and build back better,” Trudeau told reporters on August 15.
The prime minister was responding to criticism for calling an election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Make your voice heard, have your say, and together let’s move forward for everyone,” Trudeau said.
To attain a majority, the Liberals need 170 seats in the 338-member House of Commons.
The election will take place on September 20 after a 36-day campaign.
The Canada Elections Act states that the election period must be between a minimum of 36 days and a maximum of 50 days.
Many Canadian voters are expected to be able to send mail-in ballots due to COVID-19.
Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole has said Canada should not be rushing to an election amid the coronavirus pandemic.
O’Toole and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh have slammed Trudeau’s decision to call an early election.
“My biggest concern right now is a potential fourth wave of COVID-19 … We shouldn’t be rushing to an election,” O’Toole told reporters on August 9. “Mr Trudeau always seems to put his own self-interest ahead of the interests of Canadians.”
Singh on August 15 described the upcoming vote as a “selfish summer election”.
On August 17, Global News reported that Trudeau and the Liberal Party may win the election, based on a new poll.
However, securing a majority government may be difficult, the news agency noted.
Global News cited an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News, which found that the Liberals would receive 36 per cent of the vote if the election were held tomorrow.
Meanwhile, O’Toole and the Conservatives would earn 31 per cent. Singh’s NDP would get 20 per cent.
Those numbers are virtually the same as the results of Ipsos’ polling from last month, Global News noted.
The media outfit also stated that 56 percent of Canadians are now saying the election should not have been called during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It doesn’t seem right out of the starting blocks that they’re punishing (Trudeau),” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs in the report.
The poll was conducted this past weekend before and after the election was formally called on August 15.
The survey results suggest the Green Party would receive five per cent of the vote, up two points from last month.
Meanwhile, the Bloc Quebecois would receive six per cent nationally, or 28 percent in Quebec, which marks a one-point drop.
Nearly two out of 10 Canadians are either undecided (13 percent) or will not vote in this election (four percent), Global News reported about the poll.
Bricker says the results show that the question of who’s best equipped to lead the country out of the pandemic and into the future “is pretty much up for grabs.”
“What we’re going to be seeing over the next four or five weeks is … the versions of the future from the major parties starting to take hold,” he said. “And when they do, that’s when we’ll really start to see the competition begin to start.”
Trudeau spoke to reporters on August 15 after visiting Governor General Mary Simon, the representative of head of state Queen Elizabeth, to formally request the dissolution of Parliament.
Nationally, Liberals would win 35 percent of the vote, compared with 30 percent for the main opposition Conservative Party and 19 percent for the NDP, a Leger Marketing poll showed on August 12.