In an attempt to capitalize on Canada being one of the most fully vaccinated countries in the world, Justin Trudeau triggered an election on Sunday. Trudeau announced the election would take place on September 20 after visiting the governor-general, a mostly ceremonial role that represents Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
Trudeau aims to win a majority in Parliament. To pass legislation, the Liberal Party fell just short two years ago and must rely on the opposition. Canada is experiencing a new wave of Covid-19 cases, which are thought to be caused by the delta variant of the Coronavirus.
The way Trudeau’s government handled the outbreak was widely seen as a success, despite his declining popularity. Following a slow start, Canada now has enough vaccines for every citizen. Over 71 percent of eligible Canadians have been fully immunized, and over 82 percent have received at least one dose. ‘In the midst of lockdowns that have now ended, the government has spent billions to prop up the economy. However, if the result is another minority government, the knives will start to come out’, said Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian history and international relations at the University of Toronto.
Bothwell said, ‘There is little love for Trudeau. He is what the Liberals have, so they will fall in behind him, but if he lost he was toast. He’s not unpopular, but neither is he popular. The Liberal Party acts as if he’s beloved but he isn’t. The novelty has faded, but there’s still enough to vote for him in the coming election’.
In 2015, Trudeau, the son of the late Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, became the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history. The Liberals’ victory ended almost 10 years of the Conservative government in Canada, but scandals and high expectations have damaged Trudeau’s standing. With a short interruption, his father served as prime minister from 1968 to 1984.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said Trudeau’s election call is ‘selfish’ during this epidemic. For the fourth day in a row, Ontario, Canada’s largest province, reported more than 500 cases. Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said many Canadians will resent having an election they see as unnecessary, but he believes the Liberals will win.
‘Trudeau is seen as having delivered on vaccines, and income- and job-support programs have gained widespread support as a response to Covid’s economic troubles. Canadians compare their situation with the US. The current spike in the US contributes to smug complacency among Canadians. This benefits the Liberals right now,’ Wiseman said.