CANADA— Following a meeting with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau Sunday (Aug. 15), Governor-General Mary Simon approved his request to call a snap election.
The federal election campaign will last 36 days, the minimum length permitted by law, and take place on Sept. 20.
While the 2021 federal election is a very short election period, Lori Williams associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University said, she was not surprised to see it called given the long life of the current minority government.
“This is actually a fairly long-lived minority government, 18-months is usually about the shelf life of a minority government,” Williams said.
In the Banff-Airdrie constituency Conservative Party incumbent Blake Richards is expected to face off against at least three opponents including David Gamble of the Liberal Party, Tariq Elnaga of the Maverick Party and Nadine Wellwood of the People's Party of Canada.
A major factor in seeing an election called is currently, the Liberals appear to have their best chance of doing well and potentially gaining more seats in parliament or at least having a longer mandate given the timing of the election.
An election taking place on the heels of COVID-19 has left Canadians in a different position in regards to the election not only in regards to voter issues, but the voting process itself.
Canadians are questioning why the election is taking place, Williams said, especially in the face of the world health crisis.
The results of the election will likely take longer to process compared to a typical election, as many Canadians are expected to mail in their ballots or participate in advanced polls instead of voting in-person.
“In Canada, they're [ballots] hand-counted. We have to wait until they actually get to where they are going to be counted and that could delay things,” Williams said. “We may not know the outcome for days after the election.”
She encouraged people to vote, regardless of if they think their candidate or issue will win or lose, because every vote can make a difference in a tight race.
For those looking to research potential candidates and issues, Williams recommends connecting with your local public library. These resources can provide Internet access to those in need and help navigate reliable sources for information.
“There are some really good resources out there, folks that do a deeper dive and provide some deeper information on some of the candidates, usually in a relatively balanced and unbiased way,” Williams said.
She also recommended checking out local newspapers that share information on candidates in your area.
The Cochrane Eagle conducted an informal poll at The Jim Uffelmann Memorial Park on Tuesday (Aug. 17) to ask locals, "How do you feel about the upcoming federal election?"
It is “gloomy” facing a federal election in September, said Rick Sutton.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of good success come out of it,” Sutton said. “Coming from the West I just think we have needs that are not going to be addressed.”
The oil and gas industry is suffering and it does not appear the federal government is ready to step up and support local businesses at any level, he said. It is a frustrating experience because small businesses are often described as "economic drivers" who can support financial recovery in the country, but aiding them does not appear to be a priority.
“We’re just not seeing the assistance for that in the way of freeing up loans from the banks,” Sutton said.
Robert Humphries said he is annoyed to see a federal election called because of the hypocrisy on display from the Liberal government.
“Right now, he [Trudeau] has got the Chief Public Health Officer [Theresa Tam] declaring that we have the fourth wave of COVID and now he decides he’s going to call an election,” Humphries said. “He’s doing it for his own self-preservation. He doesn’t actually give a damn about anybody, or the situation most Canadians are in now.
Humphries added Trudeau has been tarnished by multiple scandals, including the WE Charity, SNC Lavalin and wearing black face multiple times, making him one of the most corrupt Prime Ministers Canada has ever seen.
“When Jody Wilson-Raybould has to resign, when he is supposed to be literally putting women at the forefront in his own government and then the lady who was the Minister of Justice of Canada, he actually puts her down, is absolutely disgusting,” Humphries said. “He needs to go period.”
Andrea McMillan is nervous about the outcome of the election, because the results will have lasting impacts on the country.
“Everything that we’re dealing with this pandemic and everything that’s happening I think we’re leaning on our officials more than any time that I’ve been aware in my adult life. We really need good officials to lean on and I don’t really trust our officials right now,” McMillan said. “Right now, is a time for change for people who are feeling a little bit powerless about where things are going.”
Courtland Penk said he is apprehensive about the upcoming election given the critical time in the country and the challenges a change in leadership could present.
He wants to see someone transparent and trustworthy in office because these traits have been missing from Trudeau given the multiple scandals he has faced.
“I think right now people should, in my own opinion, I think we need to make a change with the best odds of making that change and then worry about the finesse later,” Penk said. “I just hope people do their research … You can have Liberal morals without voting Liberal.”
It is frustrating to see a federal election called because it does not seem to be for the benefit of the Canadian people, said Kathy Geals
“It’s an absolute waste of our money. A waste of time. The timing is terrible but for Trudeau, he thinks it’s good timing because he’s good in the polls,” Geals said.
The country is still in a pandemic and is concerned some people will feel unsafe hitting the polls to vote given the uncertainty in place. Geals added the fires in British Columbia are also of concern because people are facing the loss of their lives, homes and livelihoods which will also impact their ability to go to the polls.
“It’s politics and gameplay. Its strategy and society is going to suffer and all of us taxpayers” Geals said.
Colleen McCallum said she was anxious to see a snap election called because it gives voters little time to unpack the issues in the country while balancing concerns with the pandemic.
It has been exciting to see new candidates entering the arena in Cochrane and she hopes this may mark a change in the community. She plans on doing her homework so she can cast her vote for the candidate that best fits her values.
“You really need to gather all the right information and make an educated choice— Things have got to change. It’s got to get better.”