The election for the Canadian federal election in 2021 has been called after months of speculation.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that he had spoken with newly-minted Governor General Mary Simon earlier in the day and asked her to end the minority government he has headed since October 2019.
The election will be held on Sept. 20, which means the campaign will last only five weeks.
Trudeau, his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and their three children, Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien, arrived at Rideau Hall around 10:20 a.m. ET. The family walked over from Rideau Cottage, which is only a few minutes away from the governor general’s formal mansion.
He spoke after emerging from roughly 40 minutes inside Rideau Hall, and framed the decision before Canadians now as one that will see vaccination as among the ballot box issues facing voters.
“We believe a government’s most important responsibility is to keep Canadians safe and thriving,” he said, before continuing in French.
“We are experiencing a historic moment and you have something to say about it. You have the right to chose the future of our country, whether it’s to pursue our vaccination efforts or to continue our support programs.”
He also highlighted the party’s promises to create a national childcare plan and said Canadians need to choose how they want to finish the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I need you alongside me in this fight. Because together, we can do so much more than we can apart.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke shortly after Trudeau and quickly criticized the decision to send Canadians out to the polls in the midst of the COVID-19 fourth wave.
He faced repeated questions about his views on restrictions on unvaccinated people, which polls suggest have overwhelming support from the majority of Canadians, as well as about vaccination within his own party. O’Toole did not answer when asked repeatedly whether his candidates will all be vaccinated.
“I will always respect people’s decisions,” he said in French, noting tools like rapid testing and masking can also be used to limit the spread of the virus.
“We need to educate, not mandate.”
The federal government has said it plans to require vaccination for some federal workers and will put new rules in place requiring anyone who wants to take a commercial flight or train within Canada to be fully vaccinated as of October.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said if the situation is serious enough to require vaccine mandates, it should be a sign it is not safe enough to hold an election.
“If the threat is so significant that we need to impose mandatory vaccination, is it not too dangerous to go to the polls?” he said in a press conference on Sunday.
The Bloc has said all of its candidates are vaccinated, while the NDP has said all candidates are required to be vaccinated. The Liberal Party said it expects all candidates to follow public health guidance, including getting vaccinated, with an official saying that is tantamount to the party requiring vaccination.
A spokesperson for the Conservative Party did not answer questions from Global News last week about whether it is requiring or even asking candidates about their vaccination status.
Meanwhile, the news of an election is playing out against the backdrop of horrifying images emerging from Afghanistan, where the Taliban are taking control of the capital Kabul following a blitz over recent weeks that has seen the insurgent extremists retake control of the country amid a U.S. withdrawal.
According to Global News, the Canadian embassy has been temporarily closed and staff evacuated, but Afghans who assisted Canadians on the ground have been left behind.
On Sunday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the election “selfish” and said the government should use “all available resources” to assist those still on the ground.
He pointed to the circumstances in Afghanistan and added, “I wouldn’t have called an election.”
“There is so much more that we can and should be doing right now to assist these allies.”
Source_ The Canadian Press