- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will be holding a snap election in September 2021 to consolidate his grip over power.
- The Opposition has regularly criticized the Liberal government’s spending amid the pandemic.
- The changed macroeconomic indicators in 2021 could play a key role in shaping voters’ preference.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the country will be heading for a snap election next month, an announcement that has left many intrigued.
What is a snap election?
A snap election, as the name plainly suggested, is a poll that is called earlier than its scheduled time.
As per the announcement, Canada’s snap federal election is due to be held on September 20 this year.
What are the numbers for Canada’s parties in the House of Commons?
In the last federal election (2019), the Liberal Party emerged as the winner. It won 157 seats out of a total of 338 that make up the House of Commons. It meant the Liberals were 13 seats short of the majority 170 seats.
The Liberals were followed by the Conservative Party that won 121 seats in 2019. The Bloc Québécois party candidates won 32 seats, and the New Democratic Party grabbed 24 seats. Led by Elizabeth May, the Green Party of Canada won 3 seats.
Data source: Elections Canada (Image: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media)
In 2015, the House of Commons underwent a major change. The Conservative government was replaced by the Liberal government with Justin Trudeau as the prime minister.
The Liberals won 184 seats in the House of Commons in 2015. The Conservatives could not reach 100 and had to settle with 99 seats won. The New Democratic Party, then led by Thomas Mulcair, managed 44 seats. Mulcair was the leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons from 2012 to 2015.
Why is Canada having a snap election?
In the federal election in 2019, no party won the majority. This meant that the Liberals had to rely on support from other parties to form a government.
Although Justin Trudeau continued in his office, the Liberals faced obstacles in passing legislation in the Parliament. In June 2019, Trudeau had talked about the “obstructionism" in the House. He was critical of how the opposition was not allowing smooth passage of key bills presented by the ruling Liberals.
It was a sign that Trudeau might call an early election soon. Had the snap election not struck, the country was due to vote in 2023.
What to make of the prevailing situation?
The Canadian economy is undergoing a tough situation. The federal government is spending record sums of money to keep the economy afloat.
From the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the rental assistance program for small businesses, welfare schemes by the government are aiding households and businesses. Liberal Party leaders have said that a renewed mandate for the party with a clear majority in the House is necessary to tide over the COVID-19 crisis.
The ruling party seeks to take “urgent” actions in light of ongoing socio-economic troubles. Passage of bills in the House is the key to implementing the agenda.
Was a snap poll necessary?
There are conflicting views on this subject. A fourth wave triggered by the Delta variant is a cause of concern. But at the same time, over 70 per cent of Canadians qualified to participate in the voting process have been fully vaccinated. This figure will go up by the time the election becomes due.
Erin O'Toole, the leader of the Conservative Party, has been critical of snap elections. He is of the view that elections will unnecessarily cost Canadians amid a collective fight against COVID-19. His party has repeatedly warned against subsidies doled out by the government. Conservatives have termed excessive spending a financial burden for future generations.
The Jagmeet Singh-led New Democratic Party has also been unsupportive of the idea of early polls. The Opposition is looking at snap polls as a means by the Liberals to consolidate grip over power.
What about macroeconomic indicators?
It is a mixed bag. The Bank of Canada has kept benchmark rates at a record low of 0.25 per cent to add liquidity to the economy. Despite rising inflation, the central bank has not hinted at any hike in rates soon.
Also read: Is Canada working on its own CBDC?
The economy still has to create nearly 250,000 jobs to take employment to pre-pandemic levels. In July 2021, Canada added 94,000 jobs, according to Statistics Canada. In June, 231,000 jobs were created. According to the latest data, the jobless rate is now 7.5 per cent.
Price rise is a matter of concern. In June 2021, the inflation rate was 3.1 per cent. Government data reveals that shelter costs surged 4.4 per cent as compared with June 2020, and a 5.6 per cent rise was noticed in transportation costs. Analysts believe that inflation is likely to hurt in the coming days due to various factors including the resurgence of COVID-19 and high labor costs.
How will parties fare in a snap election?
The outcome can vary from the Liberal Party winning a majority in the House of Commons to winning a lesser number of seats as compared with the 2019 election. The Liberals are citing the need for a majority to be able to pass urgent bills, and the Opposition has time and again criticized the government’s spending.
How voters react to these assertions is highly uncertain.
It is expected that the snap election will be conducted pretty well as a high number of eligible voters are already fully vaccinated. A shift in the government’s spending stance is likely if the Liberals fail to attain a majority. Only time will tell how Canadians vote amid a different socio-economic landscape as compared with past federal elections.