Voters can expect to head to the polls for a federal election on Sept. 20.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning to visit Rideau Hall on Sunday to ask that Parliament be dissolved, said sources with knowledge of his plans who spoke to CBC News on the condition they not be named.
The sources said the prime minister is then expected to announce a 36-day campaign — the minimum campaign length permitted by law — meaning voting day would be Monday, Sept. 20.
News of the pending election call has been reported already by Reuters and La Presse.
Dissolution of Parliament is not automatic and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon could say no — although that would be a rare move out of line with parliamentary tradition.
Earlier this summer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wrote to Simon asking her to deny any such request from the prime minister. NDP Leader Singh argued that Prime Minister Trudeau’s government has not lost the confidence of the House and said the NDP would support the government in the Commons in order to avoid holding an election during the pandemic.
Prime Minister Trudeau, meanwhile, has accused the opposition parties of stalling legislation in the House and has described Parliament as a place of “toxicity” and “obstructionism.”
COVID-19 concerns amid Fall Elections
Earlier today, while unveiling his own campaign promises, NDP Leader Singh said an early election call would be “selfish.”
“While Justin Trudeau wants to act like it’s over … it’s not over and people are still worried,” he said from St. John’s this morning.
“If Justin Trudeau was listening to people and their concerns and their worries, he would not be holding a selfish summer election.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also criticized the idea of calling a federal election during a fourth wave of the pandemic but said he’s ready to take on the Liberals.
“Justin Trudeau’s planning an election in the middle of a pandemic because he’s focused on politics,” he tweeted. “It’s time we had a prime minister planning an economic recovery focused on Canadians. We’re ready.”
“My biggest concern right now is the potential fourth wave of COVID-19,” Conservative Leader O’Toole said earlier this week. “We shouldn’t be rushing to an election. Mr. Trudeau always seems to put his own self-interest ahead of the interest of Canadians.”
The pandemic likely will have an impact on campaign plans for both leaders and local candidates, which are usually built around large rallies and door-knocking.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has said she’s confident voting can be done safely due to a combination of health protocols and Canada’s high rate of vaccination.
Liberals leading in polls – but nothing certain
Prime Minister Trudeau can expect to be asked more than once during the campaign why he’s pulling the plug now. The polls make it pretty clear why he’s taking the country to the polls early.
According to CBC’s Poll Tracker, polls have consistently shown the Liberals leading — possibly with enough support to turn their minority government into a majority.
As of Thursday, the Liberals hold 155 seats in the House of Commons, the Conservatives have 119, the Bloc has 32, the NDP holds 24 and the Greens have two seats. Five members sit as Independents and one seat is vacant.
Results could be delayed
The country’s chief electoral officer, Stephane Perrault, said the final outcome of a pandemic election could take a few days to report due to an anticipated increase in mail-in ballots.
Elections Canada said it expects as many as five million mail-in votes this time around, compared to fewer than 50,000 in the 2019 election.
Mr. Perrault said mail-in ballots will not be counted until the day after the election.
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