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Ready or not, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sending voters to the polls on September 20. After a visit to Governor General Mary Simon at Rideau Hall Sunday, his appeal to break up the 43rd Parliament and draw up the 338 writs was accepted, prompting a summer election.
Under normal circumstances, the next Canadian election would take place in October 2023, four years after the last one in 2019. However, the Prime Minister has the power to advise the governor-general to dissolve the parliament, which led to this change of plans.
Days before the snap election was announced, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wrote a tweet saying that calling an election now is “selfish” and that Trudeau should get the House of Commons back to work.
The campaign will last only 36 days, the shortest election period allowed under federal law. Due to COVID-19 and the ongoing fourth wave, Elections Canada has been reformulating procedures. Modifications to make it safe and accessible include face masks at the polling stations, physical distancing, plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizing stations, and a vote-by-mail option.
Local Elections Canada offices will be ready as soon as Tuesday, where voters will be able to place votes.
After meeting with Simon on Sunday, Trudeau explained that while his government did not expect COVID-19, it still supported Canadians and small businesses during the pandemic with Canada Emergency Response Benefit and wage subsidy for those struggling during the crisis. He also offered his rationale for holding an election amid the fourth wave of the virus in Canada.
“The decisions your government makes right now will define the future your kids and grandkids grow up in. So in this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want their chance to help decide where our country goes from here? Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against COVID-19 and build back better,” Trudeau said when dealing with a number of questions from reporters about why he called the election.
“Canadians deserve their say, and that’s exactly what we are going to give them,” he continued, describing the moment as “maybe the most important since 1945.” His campaign kicked off Sunday afternoon via a virtual townhall with candidates.
“After making it through 17 months of nothing like we’ve ever experienced, Canadians deserve to choose what the next 17 months, what the next 17 years and beyond, will look like. And I know that we have the right plan, the right team, and the proven leadership to meet that moment,” Trudeau said. “So to the other parties: Please explain why you don’t think Canadians should have the choice? Why you don’t think that this is a pivotal moment?”
To make sure the polls are run safely, the federal elections could cost an estimated amount of $610 million, which could be the most expensive in Canadian history.