No early election: PM vows next federal vote to be held in October 2019
Published Sunday, December 16, 2018 7:00AM EST
OTTAWA – Mark your calendars, and set those countdown clocks: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that the next federal election will not be called early.
“We will have an election on the fixed election date of October 21, I believe it is,” Trudeau said during a sit-down interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period.
Almost as evergreen as the top of the Peace Tower, early election rumours ramp up once the next federal campaign is less than a year away. Though, with this pronouncement Trudeau seems certain that the election will happen as scheduled. To be seen is how long the campaign period will be.
Under current federal election law, general elections are held on the third Monday of October, in the fourth year after the previous federal election, but this does not prevent an election from happening earlier. The Governor General of Canada has the power to, following the advice of the prime minister, call an election at another date and dissolve the current Parliament.
During the last election, then-prime minister Stephen Harper kicked off the campaign considerably early, resulting in a 78-day race. The minimum length of a campaign is 36 days.
Trudeau thinks the ballot box question is going to be: “Who has the right plan to ensure a better future for Canadians?”
Speaking to what he sees as being his biggest challenge in 2019, Trudeau took a dig at his competitors, and restated an oft-repeated line of attack on the Conservatives.
“Demonstrate that a thoughtful, reasonable approach to solving our problems is better than the politics of fear, division, of stirring up populist anger and not really providing answers that are longer than fit on a bumper sticker,” Trudeau said.
Questioned about how he plans to communicate his broken promises come 2019, from electoral reform, to balanced budgets, Trudeau sought to defend his record by referencing the record of his predecessor.
“After 10 years of the lowest growth rate since the Great Depression under Stephen Harper, we've created strong growth in Canada. We've helped millions of Canadians with things like the Canada Child Benefit. We've invested in infrastructure, we've moved forward on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in real ways,” Trudeau said.
Several times during the interview, Trudeau mentioned Harper by name, more times than he did current Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. He did not mention the NDP or their leader Jagmeet Singh, even once.
Expected to be a key issue in the lead up to, and potentially during the campaign, is the federal carbon tax. Despite the growing opposition to the plan to put a price on carbon emissions, Trudeau appeared confident with his positon on the issue.
“In 2019, if someone wants to be prime minister of this country, one of the fundamental responsibilities is to build a cleaner economy for the future and he has demonstrated a complete unwillingness, not even not to not present a plan, but to actually admit that there is a problem,” Trudeau said of Scheer.
Responding to Trudeau’s interview, Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt said that the 2019 election is going to be about how people feel when they go to the ballot box.
“Wages are not growing as quickly as inflation, and taxes are going up… and the new carbon tax coming in. That’s going to weigh heavily on people. They’re going to feel it. They’re going to feel when they make choices and what they’re going to do for their kids, or how they’re going to save money for the future, or their retirement,” said Raitt.
“And that’s when we come in and we say: ‘We can offer you a more affordable future,’” she said.
In terms of the campaign tone, Trudeau—who has been criticized for name calling or casting his opponents in a negative light, from “ambulance chasing politicians” to climate deniers—said his will be a “very positive campaign,” and that he couldn’t speak for the other federal leaders.