The Hamilton Spectator

Is the prime minster ready to call an election?

The current freewheeli­ng mood resembles that of a government preparing to head to the polls


Is Justin Trudeau gearing up for a snap election? It would be seen as an odd decision. But then the times are odd.

An election doesn’t have to be called until October 2025. Until now many analysts assumed that the governing Liberals would wait until the very last minute before pulling the plug.

Certainly, the Liberals are gun-shy about triggering unnecessar­y elections.

They tried that in 2021 in an attempt to escape the confines of minority government. But the voters saw through the ruse and simply elected another minority government.

That’s why the Liberals entered into a so-called supply and confidence arrangemen­t with the NDP, whereby the New Democrats agreed to support the government in key parliament­ary votes. In return, the Liberals agreed to legislate key portions of the NDP platform, such as denticare. The result was a long-lived minority government that was unusually stable.

So what happens now? The Liberal NDP alliance still holds. But the Liberals have become more aggressive — particular­ly in the housing field. This week alone they announced (or reannounce­d) billions of dollars to build or support housing.

Details will be announced when the government presents its budget later this month. But the overall intent is clear. When it comes to wooing the electorate, money is no object. Indeed, the freewheeli­ng mood resembles that of a government preparing for election.

Everything is partisan. Nothing is subtle. Trudeau no longer limits his insults to Conservati­ve Leader Pierre Poilievre. The Conservati­ve premiers who challenge him aren’t just wrong, he says. They are liars.

Some hold that the Trudeau government dare not call an election. Trudeau is too unpopular, they say. The economy is too weak.

In fact, by any reasonable standard, the economy is doing remarkably well. Unemployme­nt is at historic lows. Wages are on the rise. Inflation has slowed. Interest rates appear to have peaked, bringing some relief to homeowners and other debtors.

As for Trudeau, he might do better if he were in a real election campaign.

He is sharper, more acerbic when he is in campaign mode — less smarmy.

He has not backtracke­d on the Liberals’ key promise to go ahead with plans for a carbon price. In fact, if an election were called right now, the Liberals might find that voters accept a carbon tax to fight climate change — particular­ly if, as expected, Canada finds itself headed for a hot summer of drought and forest fires.

But the final decision as to when to go to the polls rests with Trudeau. He may choose to wait until the very last minute. Or he could calculate that there is no percentage in waiting — that all he is doing is giving Poilievre and his troops more time to raise money and more time to make the Conservati­ve case.

The federal budget delivered later this month will try to make the case for a Liberal victory in the next election. Whether that election occurs this fall or next year is largely irrelevant.

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