Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in forcing an election

A House of Commons committee is unanimously urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promise he won’t call a federal election while the COVID-19 pandemic rages across Canada.

In a report by the procedure and House affairs committee, even Liberal members supported a recommendation calling for a commitment that there will be no election during the pandemic, unless Trudeau’s minority Liberal government is defeated on a confidence vote.

The committee makes no similar call for opposition parties to promise not to trigger an election during the pandemic by voting non-confidence in the government.

However, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has vowed his party won’t vote to bring the government down as long as the country is in the grip of COVID-19.

That should be enough to ensure the survival of the minority Liberal government for the foreseeable future, unless Trudeau decides to trigger an election himself.

Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in forcing an election but opposition parties remain suspicious.

“Unfortunately, the Liberal government has already indicated their desire to recklessly send Canadians to the polls at whatever time they deem to be the most advantageous for the prime minister,” the Conservatives say in a supplementary report to the committee’s report.

Indeed, the Conservatives assert, without explanation, that Trudeau has already tried to orchestrate his government’s defeat.

They thank Liberal committee members for taking “a stand against the whims of the prime minister, who has been eagerly pressing towards an election for the last few months.”

At the same time, Conservatives appear to be pursuing a strategy that could give Trudeau justification for calling an election: Liberals accuse the Tories of systematically blocking the government’s legislative agenda, including repeatedly delaying a bill authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid.

They’ve also blocked debate on a bill that would give Elections Canada special powers to conduct an election safely, if need be, during the pandemic.

Bill C-19 is the government’s response to chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault, who has said special measures are urgent given that a minority government is inherently unstable and could theoretically fall at any time. However, some opposition MPs view the legislation as proof that the Liberals are planning to trigger an election.

ALSO READ: NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

In their own supplementary report, New Democrats argue that an election in the midst of the pandemic “has the potential to undermine the health of our democracy.” They point to the current delay in Newfoundland and Labrador’s election due to a COVID outbreak as an example of the “delays, confusion and unforeseen barriers in voting” that could undermine Canadians’ confidence in the outcome of a federal election.

“This raises the spectre of a government whose political legitimacy is openly challenged,” the NDP committee members say, adding that could lead to the kind of crisis that provoked a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

The Capitol riot, sparked by Trump’s unfounded claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent, appears to have been on the minds of opposition committee members when it comes to other recommendations for how to safely conduct an election, if necessary, during the pandemic.

Anticipating a massive increase in mail-in ballots, the chief electoral officer has, among other things, suggested that mail-in ballots received one day after the close of in-person polls should still be counted.

The Conservatives say the procedure and House affairs committee should have rejected that proposal, arguing that “the election should end on Election Day and Canadians deserve to know the results without delay.”

Bloc Quebecois committee members, in their supplementary report, similarly argue that extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots “would delay the election results, which would fuel voter suspicion and undermine confidence in the electoral system, which is obviously undesirable.”

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusfederal electionJustin Trudeau

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Most routes in the Northern Region require winter tires to stay on your vehicle until April 30, 2021. (Ministry of Transportation map)
Snow tire reminder: keep them on until April 30th

Ministry of Transportation warns drivers to keep winter tires on and not change them early

Born in 1940, Luella came to Kitimat at the young age of 20. Never looking back, Luella married and raised six sons in our small town. Always being an advocate for volunteering, Luella has worn many hats for many fundraisers and continues to do so. (Photo Supplied)
In Our Valley: Luella Froess

Kitimat’s #1 church fundraiser and volunteer queen

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visiting Alcan’s first metal pour back in 1954 during his solo 20-day visit to various Canadian cities. (Black Press File)
Queen’s husband, Prince Philip passes away at age 99

The Duke of Edinburgh retired from public duties in 2017 and rarely appeared in public

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

Most Read