Millroy: Election Timing


When then Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his minority government got legislation passed in 2007 fixing federal election dates every four years, he said this would prevent governments from calling snap elections for short-term political advantage.

Then the following year he broke the rule, which in essence is not really binding, in a quest to obtain a majority government.

It didn’t happen then but it did in 2011 when he again called an early election with the same goal in mind, putting the lie to any thought that his party, at least, would abide by any rule regarding fixed election dates.

But now he has company.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is breaking the rule this year and it is obviously for political gain, his hope being that he will turn his minority government into a majority.

I say good luck with that.

Trudeau is obviously striking early because he sees weakness in his main opposition, Conservative Leader Erin O’toole being virtually unknown and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh leading a party that has never come close to attaining power federally.
But I am not so sure he has a solid read on the pulse of the Canadian public.

A poll, commissioned by Torstar and conducted by Mainstreet Research over two days during the week beginning Aug. 8, found 65 percent of respondents think this is not a good time to have an election.

It showed across Canada, support for an election was lowest in British Columbia, with 75 percent of respondents opposed, and highest in the Prairies, where 48 per cent said now is the time for a federal campaign. Opinion was closer to the national average in Ontario, where 67 percent opposed an election call.

In regard to where the parties stood at that time, the poll showed Trudeau’s Liberals held the largest share of support, at 35 percent; O’Toole’s Conservatives were at 26 percent and Singh’s NDP at 16 percent. Both the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party enjoyed five percent support.

A lot, of course, can have changed since this poll was taken but it would seem to me we are headed for another minority government led by the Liberals. I think that is the most Trudeau can expect, considering his abysmal record governing on just about everything and at every level

In regard to calling an election early, I recall David Peterson, who led his Liberals to minority power in Ontario in the 1985 election and who got a majority two years later, going to the well a year early in 1990 as he feared the rising deficit, which to that point had remained secret, would hurt him if the next election were held after the news got out.

Seeing the election as unnecessary, the public turned on him and elected Bob Rae’s NDP, an experiment that lasted five years and has lain at rest ever since.

Some of this may come back to haunt Trudeau, who called this unnecessary election in the midst of a pandemic.

Now you might say that the United States held its election in the midst of the pandemic too, but that was different. It went ahead with its election because the dates are laid down and do not have an escape clause, as is the cast in Canada.
The Liberals are receiving some ugly protests, something that is being decried by all parties.

Conservative candidate Kyle Seeback said Saturday some of his campaign volunteers who were at a Liberal event shut down by police last Friday night amid a tenuous security situation were no longer welcome on his campaign.

A CBC story said that although Trudeau has been dogged by protesters at many of his campaign events, the scene in Bolton, Ont., Friday night was particularly chaotic, with hundreds of angry people on hand for a planned outdoor rally.

It said among the protesters were anti-vaccination activists who shouted vulgarities at Liberal volunteers and carried anti-Trudeau signs scrawled with obscenities. The crowd was frustrated with Trudeau’s push to make vaccines mandatory in some settings and his support for provincial vaccine passports to restrict entry into some non-essential businesses.

Earlier that day Trudeau had to cancel a campaign rally at Nobleton, Ont., and anti-vaccination activists also disrupted Trudeau’s visit to a local bakery. Protesters were seen banging on the bakery windows while shouting “F—you, Justin.”

Speaking to reporters after the fracas, Trudeau said he has never seen this level of anger or intensity at a campaign event.

I don’t think many in this country have.

Asked if his move to make vaccine mandates a campaign issue is partly to blame for the fervent opposition he’s now facing out on the hustings, Trudeau said he knows some people are “scared” about mandatory shots, but he won’t back down from his pro-vaccine posture.

Nor should he.

As I have said many times, we are in a war against COVID-19 and as far as I am concerned I am for any measure that is required to win it.

O’Toole spoke up about the events while at an engagement in Fredericton on Saturday, saying he is trying to run a positive campaign and that he “strongly condemns any form of harassment” on the campaign trail.

“We should be having a healthy and respectful debate,” he said. We have no time for people who bring negativity to campaigning. I urge everyone to put the country and our democracy first — let’s have a positive debate of ideas on the future.
Singh was of the same frame of mind.

They are sending out the right messages but I doubt the anti-vaccination, anti-mandate and anti-mask whackos will hear them or consider them.

Indeed, these people are acting more like disciples of former U.S. President Donald Trump than anything we normally see in Canada.

Please tell me we are not going emulate what is happening in the U.S.


  1. I think we need to get off the moral high horse, here.

    This is not all about Covid 19, the vaccines, and the mandating of these, although this issue is important; there are many, many reasons why Canadians might not want to vote for Trudeau, and many reasons for people to down right dislike his performance as Prime Minister. Mr. Trudeau wants to make this election to be strictly about vaccines – he has a lukewarm platform, the majority of promises being footed on promises made in previous elections which went unattended or were broken. So, this election, he proceeds to invent a Boogeyman that he can save us all from.

    Are you aware, Doug, that the Department of Defence initially published an online statement on vaccines that read: “mandating vaccines is not supported by law”. This happens to be pretty much the policy of Mr. O’Toole, who feels it is inappropriate to mandate vaccines, although he recommends them; for those who can’t or won’t take the vaccine, rapid testing will be the alternative. So the Liberals and Conservatives agreed. Oh, but not for long. As it turns out, the Department of Defense’s website abruptly disappeared for revision (although some journalists have a copy). Trudeau now *mandates* vaccines…why the abrupt change? So he can huff and puff about how awful O’Toole really is, because he won’t mandate vaccines – that he doesn’t care about the safety and health of the Canadian populace? Is this the best Trudeau can do?

    RENT-A-MOBBERS: One media noted that a protester in Ontario was spotted in BC, seemingly following the Prime Minister. He was asked if he was being paid to protest, and he said “maybe”. Doug, these mercenary protesters rarely act in isolation. So who might be paying professional protesters to assemble among protesting Canadians (who have beefs other than the vaccine) to augment the noise and anger of the crowd, adding expletives, racial and sexist slurs, making the whole assembly look like *Trump-like evil antivaxxers*??? This is what Trudeau is saving us from! These evil antivaxxers will not be allowed to dictate to Canadians! Again, who might be paying RENT-A-MOBBERS? Is it Erin O’Toole, who is ahead in the polls and has no need to act on the defensive, at least at this point, or is it somebody else?

    I won’t disagree that the management of Covid is important; it is a vital BATTLE. It is not, to me, the WAR that we’re currently fighting. We are at war with a ruling party who has performed dismally, supporting malfeasance and unethical behaviour on many counts for the past six years. That’s our war. I hope Canada wins this one. We sure need to.

  2. Trudeau may get fewer votes than the Conservatives but he can still govern with the help of the N.D.P. just like he did for the past 2 years. I expect Trudeau will ask the Governor General to let him stay in power. But I am hearing that the N.D.P. may support the Conservatives And the Conservatives may just do that too !

    • We need some election reforms. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I am tired of the federal candidate coming in third being the kingmaker. Proportionate representation might mitigate this. Also, I’d like to see term limits: prime ministers can remain in office a total of eight years (2-4 yr terms). This way if you get a PM who is not acting in good faith, shall we say, we know he/she can’t be elected perpetually; we know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

      Now that I think of it, wasn’t that a promise of JT in 2015, that was reneged on a couple of years later?

      • Clarification: the electoral reforms promised by JT was to change the first past the post to proportional representation of sorts, not to offer term limits for PMs

  3. if only the conservatives provided a legitimate option.
    but they don’t.

    a party that doesn’t believe in climate change isn’t electable.

    a small “c” red tory conservative party would mop the floor with Trudeau. unfortunately the PC/Reform party merger was more of a takeover, with the party now rife with science denying social conservatives and other “mixed nuts”.

    ditch the grievance culture and MAGA-lite theatrics and give Canadians a viable option to more than 35-40% of the country.

  4. Folks, why anyone, with an ounce of common sense, can continue to support this pompous, self righteous and completely incompetent pm is beyond me. This guy called this disastrously timed election for 2 main reasons……both self serving with total disregard for the health & welfare of Canadians. This $610 Million election, billed to Canadian taxpayers, called during a horrible pandemic, was totally miscalculated by the wonder boy. 1- trudeau called this election so he can score a majority government !! How pathetic !! 2- trudeau called this election so that a majority gov’t would allow him to cover up all the scandals, the ethical & criminal like allegations that hang over his head like an albatross around his neck. Blackface, groping allegations, SNC Lavalan scandal, WE charity….& on & on. My God, there are Canadians trapped behind enemy walls in Afghanistan & trudeau is tripping around the country, most of the time yelling untruths about his opponents, especially Erin O’Toole. Folks, we need to send trudeau a very strong message !!!! Please scrutinize the local candidates. Watch the debates. We have very good alternatives. We can do better.
    The liberals have 1 platform, spend, spend, spend, spend & thus, buy your support & votes with your tax dollars. Brilliant ????? It won’t work folks !!!! We deserve better !!! Our kids & grandkids deserve better. Sept. 20 can’t come quick enough. Meanwhile, hang on to your wallets……trudeau still has the keys to the vault.

  5. Doug…well written. I think Trudeau did not have an understanding of just how fed-up voters really are. There are several issues that go against him.
    1. His inability to make a deal sending MENG packing back to China in exchange for the 2 Canadian Michaels.
    2. Calling an election in the midst of a pandemic.
    3. Opening the border to USA travelers while their covid numbers are still climbing.
    4. His slow response to getting Canadians out of Afghanistan.
    5. Letting Canadians know he is willing to take 20 thousand from Afghanistan when the USA…being a much larger area…is taking far less.
    6. Making sure the 500 dollars for seniors arrived just one day before he called the election.
    I am sure other readers can add to the list.

Comments are closed.