As speculation about the content of a throne speech fuels talk about a fall election, a new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds a full one-quarter of Canadians (27%) say they would not be comfortable voting during the pandemic in the way they normally would – in person at a local polling station.
Notwithstanding a mail-in ballot option – or assurances from Elections Canada that polling stations would be subject to the same social distancing and cleaning protocols that are the new normal in other public places – in a situation where uncomfortable voters stay home, the Conservative Party may be most likely to benefit.
Just 12 percent of past CPC voters express discomfort with voting in person, while 35 percent of past Liberals and 37 percent of past New Democrats say the same.
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet threatened to force an election in August via a vote of non-confidence. He will get his chance on September 23 after the government presents its new long-term priorities for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. New Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole has, thus far, stated that his party is ready to run a campaign if necessary, but is not focused on an election right now. The other major player and primary collaborator with the governing Liberals is Jagmeet Singh’s NDP. The Liberals passed a confidence motion earlier this year with the NDP’s support after the two parties negotiated an extension of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Whether or not an election is called Elections Canada has apparently been preparing plans for socially distanced polling places and a potential two-day voting weekend – just in case.