It was a political calculation. And on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will know if he succeeded.
When Mr Trudeau announced a snap election last month – two years ahead of schedule – his aides apparently hoped that the increased approval ratings for his handling of the pandemic would translate into a decisive victory, giving his Party Liberal the majority in Parliament which he lost in the last election, in 2019.
However, he described the call not as a political gamble, but as a pivotal moment in the country’s history. Over the next 36 days, he doesn’t seem to have convinced many Canadians to see it that way.
Instead, complaints continued to be held about the holding of elections even as the Delta variant of the coronavirus strained hospitals in some areas. Opponents of Mr. Trudeau called his move a reckless power grab. Last weekend, Erin O’Toole, the leader of the Conservative Party and his main rival, even called him “non-Canadian”. If the campaign ultimately holds an accolade, it is perhaps the most boring in recent memory.
Mr. Trudeau argued that, like his predecessors in the aftermath of World War II, he needed a strong mandate from the voters to defeat the pandemic and get the country’s economy back on track for recovery. Even though he avoided saying it directly, what the Liberals were looking for was a majority of seats in the House of Commons. In the 2019 election, voters denied this to the party, forcing Trudeau to rely on votes from opposition parties to pass legislation.
If the final polls prove to be correct, Mr. Trudeau will again be turned down. The Liberal rankings fell sharply at the start of the campaign and got stuck in a statistical tie with the Tories at around 30% each.
“I wonder if the Liberals, in their minds, say, ‘Fuck, why do we have him, why did we call him? said Kimberly Speers, political scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. “If we end up with another Liberal minority government, how long will this last?” And then how long will Trudeau last?
Mr. Trudeau first came to power in 2015 presenting himself as a new voice in politics with a new approach and new policies. He started this campaign in third place, behind the outgoing Conservatives and the center-left New Democratic Party. His victory was a surprise.
This time, instead of presenting a new vision, Mr. Trudeau focused on arguing to voters, explicitly or not, that a return to a Conservative government under Mr. O’Toole would wipe out Liberal achievements in various areas: gun control, gender equity, climate change, child care, poverty reduction and most importantly, ending the pandemic and getting Canadians immunized.
“Sir. O’Toole will not make sure the traveler sitting next to you and your children on a train or plane is vaccinated,” Trudeau said at a campaign rally in British Columbia this week. last. “Sir. O’Toole is not leading, he is misleading.
But in Mr. O’Toole, the Prime Minister encountered a very different adversary from the Conservative leaders in the previous two elections. In an effort to broaden his party’s appeal, Mr. O’Toole, who took the reins of the party about a year ago, produced a 160-page platform that has turned its back on many fundamental conservative positions, such as opposing carbon taxes.
And during the campaign, he even reversed one of his key promises, to repeal Mr. Trudeau’s ban on 1,500 assault rifle models, once it became clear he didn’t. had little appeal to voters who were not staunch Conservatives. However, he maintained his opposition to compulsory vaccination and vaccination passports.
“I’m a new leader with a new style,” said O’Toole, a former Air Force helicopter navigator and Ontario business lawyer, at the start of the campaign.
Analysts have predicted that even though the candidates are statistically tied, the concentration of Liberal support in Canada’s most populous provinces – Ontario and Quebec – suggests the party will win the most seats, if not the majority. If that happens, Mr. Trudeau will have subjected the country to a C $ 600 million vote to produce a Parliament more or less similar to the one he dissolved.
Canadians often complain about federal elections called before the deadline, as is the case with Monday’s vote. But generally, the complaints die out after the first week of the campaign.
Not this time. With the Delta variant of the coronavirus sweeping across many provinces and their governments reinstating restrictions or suspending plans to lift them, questions about the wisdom of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election call still dominate the race.
“They struggled to answer that question throughout the campaign,” said Gerald Butts, a longtime friend of Mr. Trudeau’s and his former senior political adviser. “And that’s part of why they’re struggling to get the point across.”
While Mr. Trudeau carefully avoids using the word “majority”, there is no doubt that he is seeking to regain control of the House of Commons, something he was denied in the 2019 vote, when his Party liberal won only a minority. Since then, he has relied on ad hoc support from opposition parties to push through the legislation, which Trudeau said has led to delays in pandemic measures.
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, said this spring the “Covid consensus” among all parties in Parliament had collapsed.
“We really saw that it was becoming more and more impossible to move the affairs of the country forward,” she said last week during a break in her individual campaign campaign across the country. “It was clear to us that it would become really impossible to keep moving in the fall.”
Opponents of Mr. Trudeau do not believe this, 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 next day. vote. They have relentlessly denounced his decision to call the snap elections unnecessary and potentially dangerous for those going to the polls.
The malcontents include the Liberals, which leads to the possibility that many of them simply do not vote.
Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada called an early election last month – two years ahead of schedule – he has struggled to explain why he thinks it is necessary.
The last general election, in 2019, left his Liberal Party in a weakened position. Trudeau says he needs a strong mandate this time around to bring the pandemic under control and lead Canada to economic recovery.
But his rivals have called the elections a seizure of power. Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party heads for election day in statistical tie with the Conservative Party, led by Erin O’Toole.
What issues are at stake?
Covid19: The response to the pandemic is a point of contention between the two candidates. Mr. Trudeau supports vaccination warrants for travel and for federal workers, as well as vaccination passports. Mr. O’Toole is opposed to it. Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, but in some areas the number of cases is on the rise and hospitals are nearing full capacity.
Climate change: Mr. Trudeau has made this issue a priority by introducing, among other measures, a national carbon tax. The Conservatives, who have opposed such taxes for years, came to this campaign with their first carbon tax plan.
Gun control: Mr. O’Toole promised to repeal a ban on 1,500 models of military-style assault rifles but he appeared to be abandoning the plan quickly; polls in Canada show strong support for strict gun restrictions.
The economy: Canada has recovered almost all of the jobs lost by the pandemic. Spending on vaccines and economic support, however, has left large debts and deficits. After criticizing these deficits, Mr. O’Toole unveiled similar spending plans. He also promised to balance the budget within 10 years, which most economists say is not credible.
What about foreign policy?
Conservatives say Trudeau has been ineffective in his dealings with Beijing. China’s incarceration of two Canadian businessmen has been a source of tension for several years, seen as retaliation for Canada’s detention of a top executive from Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Afghanistan has also been a problem. Mr. Trudeau called a snap election the same weekend Kabul fell to the Taliban. His opponents said the timing interfered with Canada’s mission to save the Afghans and criticized the government for not acting sooner.
How long will it take for us to know the results?
Paper ballots for all electoral districts must be hand-counted before the results become clear, which is likely to be well late Monday night or early Tuesday.
Should I take my own pencil as a precaution in the event of a pandemic?
Election officials say voters are encouraged to take their own pencils to mark their ballots, but they will provide single-use pencils at polling stations. They have ordered 16 million short golf pencils and over 3.6 million heavy-grip pencils, more than in 2019.