Bloc to force MPs to vote whether they agree a pandemic election would be 'irresponsible'
OTTAWA -- The Bloc Quebecois' opposition day motion will call on members of Parliament to vote on whether they believe holding an election during the pandemic would be "irresponsible" and agree that the government has a responsibility to prevent it from happening.
The motion, to be presented Thursday, asks that the House of Commons remind the government of COVID-19’s devastating impact over the last year, in which nearly 25,000 Canadians have died.
It comes after MPs gave approval in principle to Bill C-19 on Tuesday, the government’s proposed legislation to make sure an election is safely held if called during the pandemic. The bill passed by a vote of 330-1 at second reading, with Independent MP Derek Sloan registering the only objection.
It will now go to a House of Commons committee for scrutiny and possible amendments. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc has said the government is "wide open" to improvements to the legislation.
A day prior though, initial debate on the bill ended quickly when the NDP joined forces with the Liberals to move it to a second reading vote.
During Question Period Wednesday, Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said the government was imposing a “gag order” without seeking the full approval of all parties and instead suggested a private meeting between political leaders to study the content of the legislation and come to a consensus on election rules.
Blanchet said that while the prime minister says he doesn’t want an election, “no one believes that.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to Blanchet’s comment stating that while no party wants an election during this time, it’s better to be prepared if one is triggered.
He also pointed blame at the opposition parties for voting in favour of an election by voting against recent government bills.
The Conservatives and NDP have also accused the government of seeking an election.
“The prime minister told his party to get ready for a spring election, all the while the variants of COVID-19 are spreading like wildfire,” said Singh on Feb.17 in the House of Commons, asking the prime minister then to promise he wouldn’t call an election.
Trudeau said at the time: “We know in a minority Parliament the government doesn’t have the sole power to decide when we go into an election, opposition members have a role to play.”
When shuffling his cabinet in early January, Trudeau said his “preference” would be to hold off on an election race until mass vaccinations are complete.
With files from The Canadian Press.