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P.M Trudeau says he doesn’t want an election – but not everyone buys it.

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on September 08, 2020 with No Comments

Is the PM gambling on an early vote, or it he trying to corner the New Democrats?

The prime minister insisted all this week that he doesn’t want an election — but even with two recent public opinion polls suggesting the Liberals’ lead is evaporating, not everyone is convinced.

Justin Trudeau did the rounds of news outlets from one end of the country to the other, defending his decision to prorogue Parliament and to use a throne speech on Sept. 23 to change course in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We shouldn’t be moving forward with an ambitious, bold vision to help Canadians and build a better future without ensuring that we have the support of Parliament,” he said in one interview.

“We need a new direction for Parliament,” he said in another. “It is the responsible and democratic thing to lay out that vision in the throne speech that Parliament will then vote on. It will be a confidence vote, where we will be able to see whether this government’s ambitious plan for the future and investing in Canadians has the support of Parliament.”

So … an election in the midst of a pandemic? Or maybe a signal to the New Democrats that they should get on board with an ambitious agenda promising significant new spending on child care, health services and creating a greener economy?

“I think he’s playing a risky game,” said Anne McGrath, the NDP’s national director and a veteran of previous minority parliaments as a senior member of former leader Jack Layton’s team.

McGrath and former Liberal campaign manager David Herle (who now hosts the Herle Burly podcast) debated on this weekend’s edition of CBC’s The House whether it’s time for the two parties to form a coalition or some other type of partnership to advance the causes both parties believe in.

Both said a partnership is off the table. But they disagree on whether there should be an election this fall, even as COVID-19 cases begin to rise again in parts of the country.

“I think the moment is propitious for an election and the future might be far less so,” Herle said. “We are still in a situation where the dominant issue on peoples’ minds is COVID and the government is seen to have managed that very well.”

McGrath argued Trudeau is playing chicken with Parliament when he suggests his government doesn’t want an election while telling Canadians the opposition parties face a stark choice over his government’s coming throne speech.

“I think that the calculus does have to be what people are experiencing right now, whatever is good or bad for political parties,” she said. “I mean, we are always ready to have an election, particularly in a minority Parliament. I’m very conscious of the need to be ready for an election. However, I don’t think that’s first on the minds of Canadians right now.”

It’s also not top-of-mind for one of Canada’s most powerful labour leaders — leaders who enjoy considerable access to the prime minister and his cabinet and the influence that goes with it.


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