Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called an early snap election on September 20, saying he needs a new mandate to ensure voter approval of his liberal government’s plan to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trudeau, 49, is betting that high vaccination rates against the virus – about 64% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated – and that the post-pandemic economic recovery will help him extend and consolidate his grip on power.
“The decisions your government makes now will determine the future in which your children and grandchildren will grow up,” Trudeau told reporters. “So at this pivotal moment, who wouldn’t want to say?”
Mr Trudeau spoke after visiting Governor-General Mary Simon, representing the Head of State, Queen Elizabeth of Britain, to formally request the dissolution of Parliament.
Opinion polls suggest the Liberals will win their third consecutive election, but may not regain a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons.
Mr Trudeau currently only has a minority of seats, making him dependent on other parties to govern.
Nationally, Liberals will receive 35% of the vote, compared to 30% for conservatives and 19% for left-wing New Democrats, according to an Aug. 12 Leger Marketing poll.
Liberals have spent heavily on subsidies to businesses and individuals to limit the damage from CovidD-19, sending the national debt and budget deficits to record levels.
The centre-right Conservatives, the Liberals’ biggest rival, say spending will increase if Trudeau wins again, leaving generations of Canadians hobbled by debt.
Trudeau, the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, won a majority for the first time in 2015. But in the 2019 election, after decades of black-face photos surfaced, he fell short of achieving a majority.
Another minority administration would likely leave him dependent again on the New Democrats, who favor increased spending on social programs. It would also raise questions about Mr Trudeau’s future as party leader.
In the absence of a strong opposition in this election, as the main opposition Conservative Party is struggling, the Liberals fear the vote could fragment and hand them over to another minority government.
Some liberals question the need for early elections, saying that although Mr Trudeau has complained about obstruction of opposition parties, he has been able to pass most of the legislation proposed by the Liberals.
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