Canada snap elections coming as Trudeau seeks post-pandemic mandate

Canada snap elections coming as Trudeau seeks post-pandemic mandate
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday is expected to call snap elections for September 20 to seek a new mandate to steer the nation's pandemic exit, much to the dismay of his rival parties.
In office since 2015, Trudeau and opposition leaders have been crisscrossing the country in recent weeks making election-style announcements in anticipation.
On Sunday, he will visit the governor general to ask her to dissolve parliament, triggering a general election that polling shows is likely to return his Liberals to power.
Despite rolling out massive pandemic aid, passing a federal budget and other key legislation with opposition backing over the past year, Trudeau has lamented that parliament in recent months has become dysfunctional, with a "level of obstructionism and toxicity in the House that is of real concern."
Opposition leaders disagreed, while warning that it's too soon to be charting a path out of the pandemic when Covid-19 infections are once again surging nationwide following a summer drop that resulted in most public health restrictions being lifted.
All five parties with current seats in parliament are gearing up for a fierce battle at the ballot box.
"Justin Trudeau's planning an election in the middle of a pandemic because he's focused on politics," tweeted Trudeau's main challenger, Conservative leader Erin O'Toole.
"It's time we had a prime minister planning an economic recovery focused on Canadians," he added. "We're ready."
Most Canadians approve of Trudeau's pandemic response. But if a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections strikes during the campaign, it could sink his backing.
"This was the only window of opportunity for him because with students' return to school and universities in two weeks, Covid cases will inevitably go up," Felix Mathieu, political science professor at the University of Winnipeg, told AFP.
Trudeau's government "has already held for 18 months, which is the average lifespan for a minority government," he added.
Despite rising vaccination rates that are among the highest in the world -- with almost 62 percent of Canadians fully inoculated -- nearly 1,000 new daily Covid-19 cases have been reported across Canada recently.
A spike in hospitalizations led Alberta -- the first Canadian province to fully lift pandemic restrictions last month -- to reintroduce coronavirus testing and mandatory quarantines for infected persons on Friday.
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