Canadians are going to the polls.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced on Sunday morning that a federal election will be held next month following a brief meeting with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, who granted his request to dissolve Parliament.
Election day will be Sept. 20. The campaign will last 36 days, which is the minimum length permitted under Canada’s election laws.
“After making it through 17 months of nothing like we’ve ever experienced. Canadians deserve to choose what the next 17 months, what the next 17 years and beyond will look like,” said Trudeau said during a press conference Sunday morning out front of Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Trudeau and the Liberals are hoping to turn their minority government into a majority a little less than two years after the last election.
“In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want their chance to decide where our country goes from here?” asked Trudeau.
But today’s election call comes as coronavirus cases climb across the country, particularly in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.
Opposition leaders have argued that plunging into an election during the health crisis is both unnecessary and reckless.
However, Trudeau said that Canadians should have the opportunity to choose their government amid the pandemic, stressing that he believes that Canadians should have their voices heard on how they want to end the pandemic.
“Now it is time to hear your voice. The decisions your government makes right now will define the future your kids and grandchildren grow up in,” he said, later adding. “To the other parties. Please explain why you don’t think Canadians should have the choice, why you don’t think that this is a pivotal moment.”
But opposition party leaders didn’t share the same view as Trudeau.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called Trudeau’s summer election call “selfish” and an attempt to grab power amid a pandemic.
“It’s clear Justin Trudeau wants to grab power. He wants a majority. Why does he want a majority? It is certainly not because he wants to help poor people or help people more, it’s only because he wants to help people less,” Singh said during a campaign event in Montreal.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole echoed similar sentiments.
Green Leader Annamie Paul launched her campaign emphasizing the need for urgent action on the climate crisis but also took a moment to denounce Trudeau for calling an election during a pandemic.
“We’re here because the Liberals have decided that they want all the power, that they want a majority and they think that now is the best time to get it,” said Paul at an event in the riding of Toronto Centre, where she is making her third attempt to win a seat in the House of Commons.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet accused Trudeau of contradicting himself, saying that if the pandemic is so serious that vaccinations must be made mandatory, then it’s dangerous to call an election.
With files from the Canadian Press