Liberal Government of Canada Prepares Ground for Pandemic Election
According to numerous media reports, Canada’s Liberal minority government led by Justin Trudeau is just days away from dissolving Parliament and calling a federal election.
As the country stands on the cusp of what Canadian public health officer Theresa Tam and many other officials are warning of a “delta-driven fourth wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic, such election would be unprecedented. Liberal legislation (Bill C-18) designed to facilitate a pandemic election by extending voting from one to three days and making it easier to obtain and vote by mail was not passed until Parliament rose in June for his summer vacation.
Yet none of this seems to give the government pause. Trudeau and his ministers have clearly cleared the bridges for an election call with a series of appointments and spending announcements. Liberal candidates have reportedly been ordered to cancel vacations and secure office space for the next two months.
On July 30, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced particularly cynically that emergency “pandemic recovery” benefits will be extended for one month until October 23. and its economic fallout – will not expire, which could hurt Liberal electoral prospects, in the midst of a campaign for a vote in late September or early October. Under Canadian law, election campaigns must last between 36 and 50 days.
Opposition parties criticize the government for prioritizing its efforts to secure a parliamentary majority rather than containing the pandemic. Most opinion polls currently show the Liberals, who won just 33% of the vote in the October 2019 election, with a lead of 6 percentage points or more over the Conservatives, the other traditional party in the government of the Canadian ruling class.
“My biggest concern right now is the potential fourth wave of COVID-19,” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole told reporters Monday at a campaign-style event in Belleville, Ont. “We shouldn’t rush into an election. Mr. Trudeau always seems to put his own best interests ahead of the interests of Canadians.
The fourth wave is a real and present danger. But such comments from O’Toole are utterly hypocritical and selfish. The Conservative leader has not spoken a word of criticism of the United Conservative Party (UCP) government of Alberta, which has gone further than perhaps any government in a wealthy capitalist country in dismantling all measures to combat COVID-19. As of next Monday, all contact tracing will be abandoned by Alberta. COVID tests will only be given to seriously ill people, and even those with the virus will not be required to self-isolate.
The same could be said of other opposition parties and leaders. During a party rally on Sunday, the leader of the Bloc Québécois (BQ), Yves-François Blanchet, accused Trudeau of putting his “personal ambitions” before the fight against the Delta variant. The BQ, it should be noted, has never deigned to criticize the right-wing government of the CAQ “Quebec first”, whose calamitous mismanagement of the pandemic has caused Quebec to register more than 40% of the 26,600 deaths from COVID in Canada. The CAQ is now insisting that all public schools, colleges (CEGEPs) and universities in the province reopen completely at the end of this month with little or no protective measures.
The truth is that, throughout the pandemic, Canada’s entire political establishment and all levels of government have systematically placed safeguarding the fortunes and profits of the capitalist elite before protecting the health, the workers’ lives and livelihoods. This class war alliance spans the federal Liberal government and the far-right premiers of Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, through the supposedly “left” New Democratic Party (NDP) and trade unions. In the spring of 2020, they all agreed to Ottawa to channel hundreds of billions of dollars to support big business and financial markets; then quickly turned to a homicidal campaign to force non-essential workers back to work amid the pandemic. It was the back to work and school campaign – explicitly endorsed and promoted by the Trudeau Liberals in their September 2020 Speech from the Throne – that plunged the country into devastating second and third waves of infections and deaths from COVID-19 in the fall. / winter 2020-21 and last spring.
The NDP and its leader Jagmeet Singh have particularly insisted on urging Trudeau and his Liberals not to call a snap election. Singh, reported on Toronto Star Monday, sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau urging him to recall Parliament and pledging that the NDP would work “constructively” with the government. With this letter, Singh reiterated the public commitment he made last February that the NDP would ensure the parliamentary survival of the minority Liberal government until the end of the pandemic.
Singh has been true to his word. With the full support of the unions, the NDP has kept in power a right-wing government which, in addition to dealing with the ruling class’s criminal response to the pandemic, is increasingly including Canada in military-strategic offensives. from Washington. against China and Russia; spend hundreds of billions to rearm the Canadian Armed Forces; further extend the reach and powers of intelligence agencies; and continue to criminalize, as very recently with the dockers of the Port of Montreal, the struggles of the working class.
Lest the New Democrats lose the minimum parliamentary power they wield in the current Parliament, Singh has also publicly called on the Governor General to deny Trudeau’s request for a snap election. On July 27, the day after Mary Simon was sworn in as the Queen’s representative, the federal NDP leader wrote her an open letter in which he called on the unelected Governor General to use her extraordinary powers to flout the wishes of the government session.
In his letter to Simon, Singh briefly referred to the pandemic. Its main argument, however, was that an election is not necessary, because the current parliament works. Thanks to the support of the NDP, the Liberals “won every confidence vote they put in the House,” Singh wrote, “including on the throne speech and on the budget.”
The right-wing character of the NDP’s call for the Governor General is underscored by Singh’s call that an election is not necessary because the Social Democrats have helped ensure the ruling class has a stable government. large companies. But even if the Governor General refused to accede to a request to dissolve the current nearly two-year-old parliament in the name of the pandemic emergency, that would be patently reactionary. This would further strengthen the arbitrary powers of the Governor General, an undemocratic institution that serves as a security mechanism for the ruling class.
In a July 29 editorial, the Globe and Mail, the traditional voice of Canada’s financial elite, opposed Singh’s call to the Governor General to deny Trudeau an election demand, no doubt for fear that such action could trigger a political-constitutional crisis. . However, he did agree with the leader of the NDP that an election is “unnecessary”. “There is no compelling reason of national interest or public policy that demands an election,” said the World. “Elections,” he continues, “are when politicians make easy promises to voters, not hard demands on them.”
the World the editorial is an admission that, despite the rhetoric, all parties are pursuing the same right-wing program. This is especially true of their response to the pandemic, where union-backed and Conservative-backed “progressives” from O’Toole and their right-wing allies in Ontario and Alberta have joined forces to deliver endless sums of money in the coffers of large corporations and relentlessly pursue the “reopening” of the economy.
That said, the ruling class is increasingly concerned about the precarious state of the global economy, the intensification of world trade and geopolitical conflicts, the collapse of the world order led by the United States and the United States. Washington’s growing demands for Ottawa to increase support for the military-security partnership through which Canadian imperialism has asserted its predatory interests on the world stage for the past three quarters of a century.
As the World The popular “firm demands” reference indicates, as far as the ruling class is concerned, that the homicidal pandemic’s “back to work” campaign is meant to be the opening salvo in an effort to strengthen “competition.” and the strategy position of Canadian imperialism by an intensified assault on the working class at home and by aggression and war abroad.
This program meets and will meet growing opposition from a working class whose alienation and anger towards the establishment has been compounded by the mass death and enormous increase in social inequalities caused by its criminal mismanagement of the pandemic. As in the United States, Latin America and the world, the past few months have seen a wave of militant labor struggles, including strikes by workers in the Vale, Cominco and ArcelorMittal mine and smelter, food processing workers. Quebec and Quebec public sector workers.
The critical task is to develop an independent political movement of the working class by uniting its myriad of struggles and infusing them with a socialist-internationalist perspective. It requires a political war against the corporate unions and the NDP, whose alliance with the Trudeau government embodies their role as agents and lackeys of Canada’s capitalist ruling elite.