For the past couple of weeks, Canadian media has been buzzing with the possibility of a federal election this fall. Considering the ongoing health crisis, what are the chances of this happening? Here is some background information to make this as clear as possible.
Last month, Trudeau prorogued Parliament. His reasoning behind this decision was that this will give the government a chance to present a post-pandemic economic recovery plan for Canada. However, Conservative members of Parliament believe that this move was meant as a cover-up for the WE Charity scandal. When Parliament was shut down, so was the committee that was investigating Trudeau’s government’s role in the WE Charity student-grant controversy. For that reason, some believe that he made this decision to protect himself and his government.
Before Parliament restarts, Trudeau must prepare a Throne Speech, which is set to be delivered later this week.
The Throne Speech is a speech written by Justin Trudeau, which outlines his intentions and the government’s agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session. The speech is then given to the Governor-General, Julie Payette, acting as the representative of the Queen. The Governor-General reads the prepared speech in front of the members of Parliament, who then vote in favour or against. Since Trudeau’s government is a minority, people are worried that he will lose the vote of confidence, causing a federal election to take place. On the other hand, others say that he will win the vote of confidence because the government would not want to trigger an election during a crisis as serious as this pandemic.
If a federal election ends up taking place, one of the main concerns for the Liberals would be Erin O’Toole. He recently won the Conservative Party leadership and is ready to go up against Trudeau’s Liberal government. O’Toole supports Bill 101, which governs the use of French in Québec, along with Bill 21, which bans the wearing of religious symbols, including hijabs and turbans, by certain public-service workers. Andrew McDougall, a political scientist at the University of Toronto, said O’Toole is probably the most serious challenge Trudeau has faced as PM and can cause some real damage to the Liberals.
Another concern is this: how would we proceed with a federal election? Would there be mail-in ballots? Could the election be postponed?
Elections Canada has formed a group to discuss the best way to hold a general election. The agency said that the current Canadian system could not handle a national vote completely by postal service. Elections Canada is looking into whether the system can be altered in order to allow more mail-in ballots to reduce traffic at polling stations and to respect social distancing measures. Alternative locations for polling stations will need to be investigated because of COVID-19 worries, as well as past polling station requirements.
So, the real question remains: is our country prepared for a federal election in the middle of a global health crisis?
Originally Published on www.bandersnatch.ca Vol.50 Issue 02 on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020