MPs nearly unanimous in declaring a pandemic election 'irresponsible'
OTTAWA -- The Bloc Quebecois found support from parliamentarians across the aisle Tuesday for their motion to denounce a pandemic election and agree that the government has a responsibility to prevent it from happening.
All MPs who voted, with the exception of Independent MP Derek Sloan, agreed holding an election during the pandemic would be “irresponsible.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reinforced that his focus remains centred on supporting Canadians through the pandemic and the government has no intention of triggering an election before it's over.
“I made a promise from the very beginning we would have Canadians’ backs, no matter what it took for as long as it took to get through the pandemic and that has worked and, by and large, other parties have supported that. We have seen however that we need to continue to have a well-functioning Parliament so that we can continue to get support out to Canadians,” he said.
“Nobody wants an election before the end of this pandemic.”
The motion also asked that the House remind the government of COVID-19’s devastating toll over the last year, during which it has taken the lives of more than 25,000 Canadians.
All Liberals who were present for the vote were in favour, including Trudeau.
CTV News political commentator Scott Reid says he suspects the Liberals want to hold off on an election until the majority of Canadians have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“But once that occurs, I think you’re going to see that this government is going to want to bring itself down, go to the people, get a new mandate,” he said in an interview with CTV National News.
Reid said that no government wants to be at the mercy of another party, and while Parliament is functioning relatively well today getting bills passed, co-operation isn’t indefinite.
“If you’re the prime minister, you want to strike while the iron is hot, if your numbers are high in Quebec, in Ontario, in B.C., come August when people have had their second jab, we’re going to the polls, there’s no question.”
He said the only possible thorn in this timeline would be an unexpected pandemic emergency.
“What will derail a 2021 election campaign is a horrible development with respect to COVID-19, if a new variant arises that proves itself [in]vulnerable to the vaccine, if we see the rate of cases rise rather than fall, those sorts of things will put politics on the backburner.”
Nevertheless, parties are preparing and getting their rosters assembled.
The Liberals have so far nominated 152 candidates, while the Conservatives have nominated 206, the NDP have nominated 75, and the Greens have nominated 18.
“Across the country, we have already nominated a fast-growing team of 152 Liberal candidates, and dozens more are expected in the weeks to come. Liberals have been clear about our priority being to deliver support for Canadians through this pandemic. We recognize however that a minority Parliament means an election could theoretically happen at any time,” said Liberal Party communications director Braeden Caley in a statement to CTVNews.ca.
“If the Opposition is going to continue to vote non-confidence in the Government, it is irresponsible for them not to have measures in place to protect Canadians.”
The Conservatives said they’ll have a “full slate” in time for the next election, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s spokesperson Mel Richer said “We are excited by the candidates that will be on the ballot. We're proud of our work to nominate a more diverse slate of candidates that is more representative and inclusive of the Canadian population.”
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul’s spokesperson Noah Zatzman said they expect to have an additional two candidates by Thursday.