By Vatican News staff reporter
Newly installed Governor General Mary Simon officially dissolved the Canadian parliament on Sunday, at the request Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The date for federal elections has been set for 20 September, the shortest campaign period allowed under the Canadian constitution.
Trudeau’s Liberal party lost its parliamentary majority in elections in 2019, but was able to form a minority government. The next election was scheduled for October 2023, but Trudeau called for early elections in hopes of regaining a majority.
The leaders of other major parties – including the official opposition Conservative party and the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) – were critical of the snap elections, which will take place as Canada confronts a fourth wave of the coronavirus.
The handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to be a primary issue during the campaign. Canada has fared relatively well during the pandemic, with some 1.4 million cases and 26,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Despite a slow initial rollout of the Covid vaccines, Canada now boasts more than 70% of its population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The head of the Conservative party, Erin O’Toole, supports vaccines but has opposed vaccine mandates. O’Toole won a party leadership contest in August 2020, after the former leader stepped down following the 2019 election loss.
This year’s election will also be contested by the New Democratic Party, headed by Jagmeet Singh; and the Green Party, whose leader is Annamie Paul. The Bloc Quebecois, which only competes in the francophone province of Quebec, will also field candidates.