Canadians often grumble about federal elections called before schedule, as is the case with Monday’s vote. But usually the complaints die out after the first week of campaigning.
Not this time. With the Delta variant of the coronavirus sweeping many provinces, and their governments restoring restrictions or pausing plans to lift them, questions about the wisdom of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election call are still dominating the race.
“They’ve been struggling with answering that question the whole campaign,” said Gerald Butts, a longtime friend of Mr. Trudeau’s and his former top political adviser. “And that’s part of why they’re having trouble getting the message across.”
While Mr. Trudeau carefully avoids using the word “majority,” there is no doubt that he’s seeking to take back control of the House of Commons, which was denied him in the 2019 vote, when his Liberal Party won only a minority. Since then, he has relied on the ad hoc support of opposition parties to push legislation through, something Mr. Trudeau said led to delays in pandemic measures.
Chrystia Freeland, the deputy prime minister and finance minister, said that this spring the “Covid consensus” among all of the parties in Parliament unraveled.
“We really saw that it was becoming increasingly just not possible to get the business of the country done,” she said last week during a break in her one-person campaign trek around the country. “It was clear to us that it was going to become truly impossible to keep moving in the fall.”
Mr. Trudeau’s opponents don’t buy that, noting that all the major pieces of Mr. Trudeau’s pandemic legislation have passed, though several bills died when Mr. Trudeau adjourned Parliament for the vote. They have relentlessly denounced his decision to call the snap election as unnecessary and potentially dangerous for people heading to the polls.
The disgruntled include Liberals, leading to the possibility that many of them may simply not vote.