By Lethbridge Herald Opinion on April 29, 2021.
With Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority government managing to rise above the criticism and secure the confidence of the House in key votes regarding the federal budget, Canadians have been given an election reprieve, at least in the short term.
And while many voters – certainly in Western Canada – might desperately desire a return to the polls for a chance to eliminate the Liberals and place the Conservatives back at the nation’s commanding heights, perhaps a snap election amidst COVID’s third wave sweeping the country would not have been the best decision our politicians could have made.
And they certainly knew it, too. Those with a talent for reading between the lines would have noticed a distinct lack of enthusiasm among Opposition MPs for sending Canadians back to the ballot box. Of course, the election threats were still there, interspersed between harsh fiscal criticism and all-around Trudeau bashing. But for anyone with well-developed political instincts and a dispassionate assessment of the situation, strong words from the likes of Erin O’Toole or Jagmeet Singh were simply that – more words.
Few people credit Trudeau with the finely-honed political instincts of his father, but any politician worth their salt could have seen the writing on the wall. Forcing an election on the nation at this point in time – no matter what other arguments are advanced – runs the risk of the ‘perpetrator’ being branded as reckless and irresponsible by voters. Not a great way to kick off an election campaign.
That being said, pundits had poured much more than a dash of speculation into the federal mixing bowl on the prospects for a spring election, but that was largely before the numbers in COVID-19’s third wave began exploding across the country.
And there are other factors at play that might have conspired to make the occasion less than ideal, certainly for O’Toole and the CPC. O’Toole only recently ascended to the apogee of the party, and while Canadians at large are slowly putting a face to the name he still remains an unknown entity in many quarters.
O’Toole has his work cut out for him in making inroads with the electorate, but challenging Trudeau’s name recognition on the national stage while still making introductions to voters could be a recipe for disaster on the hustings.
Not that any voter should rule out the prospects of a federal election sometime in 2021 just because the Liberals survived a confidence vote in the House. If past precedent is any indicator, the present minority government is getting pretty long in the tooth.
Politics remains the opportunist’s game, and if poll numbers are riding just as high as our daily COVID infection rates, the possibility of a snap election remains far from remote.