Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to pull the plug on his minority Liberal government and call snap elections on Sunday despite a nationwide uptick in COVID infections that is worrying voters, media reported.
Trudeau is to visit the governor general to ask her to dissolve parliament and announce voting will be held on September 20, according to public broadcaster CBC and other local media, citing unnamed sources.
He and opposition leaders have been crisscrossing the country in recent weeks making election-style announcements as talk of a possible fall ballot has heated up.
Trudeau was reelected to office in 2019 but lost his majority in his second term.
Despite rolling out massive pandemic aid, passing a federal budget and other key legislation with opposition backing over the past year, he has lamented that parliament in recent months has become dysfunctional, with a “level of obstructionism and toxicity in the House that is of real concern.”
Opposition leaders pushed back, with one urging Governor General Mary Simon to reject Trudeau’s request, informing her in a letter that his party was ready to continue propping up the minority Liberal government to pass legislation until the pandemic is declared over.
“While Justin Trudeau wants to act like (the pandemic is) over ... it’s not over and people are still worried,” New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters earlier, echoing public health warnings of a surge in COVID cases around the corner, despite rising vaccination rates.
“If Justin Trudeau was listening to people and their concerns and their worries, he would not be holding a selfish summer election,” he said.
Erin O’Toole, who has struggled to make himself known to voters since becoming head of the main opposition Tories only last year, also said this week: “We shouldn’t be rushing to an election.”
If a general election were to be held now, the Liberals would be in striking distance of regaining a majority in parliament, according to the latest poll by Abacus Data, with 37 percent of support.
The Conservatives and the New Democrats trail behind with 28 percent and 20 percent of support, respectively.
Abacus found that 38 percent of Canadians would be happy to cast a ballot in the fall while 17 percent are firmly opposed.
If COVID cases spike, however, one in five voters, including many current Liberal backers, “would be angry enough not to vote Liberal,” the polling firm said in a statement.
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