The leaders of Canada’s opposition parties criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for calling parliamentary elections during a pandemic, speaking Wednesday night during their second debate of the campaign.
Trudeau called the vote last month hoping to win a majority of seats in Parliament but polls indicate his Liberal party could lose power to the Conservatives in the Sept, 20 election.
“Why did you call an election, Mr. Trudeau, in the middle of the pandemic,” Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said during the French-language debate.
“Canadians need to have a say how we get out of this,” Trudeau responded.
Trudeau had wanted to capitalize on the fact that Canada is now one of the most fully vaccinated countries in the world, with more than 77% of Canadians 12 years and older having gotten the coronavirus shots.
“We invested enough money to put us at the top of the list in the world,” Trudeau said in French
Canada, however, is in a fourth wave of infections driven by the delta variant and by those who remain unvaccinated.
“The only reason you called an election was a selfish reason, to obtain more power,” Jagmeet Singh leader of the leftist New Democrat party, said to Trudeau.
Singh’s party propped up Trudeau’s Liberal party on most issues during the last sessions of Parliament. The Liberals didn’t have a majority of seats in the House of Commons and had to rely on Singh’s party to pass legislation.
Trudeau, the son of the late Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, became the second youngest prime minister in Canadian history when he was first elected with a majority of seats in Parliament in 2015 after almost a decade of Conservative Party government.
But there is some fatigue with Trudeau after six years, and scandals combined with high expectations have damaged his image for some Canadians. He won re-election in 2019 but with less than a majority of the seats.