canada early election

This is what an early election in Canada might look like

An early election in Canada could be coming, says new Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. 

O'Toole claimed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "may be trying to trigger" an early election, leaving Canadians wondering what it might look like if the country goes to the ballot box amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

"If Mr. Trudeau thinks he can play some games with a new leader and force an election, we will be ready," said O’Toole at his first news conference since becoming leader of the federal Conservatives. 

While the next fixed election date isn’t scheduled to take place until 2023, the recent WE Charity controversy has prompted some members of the official Opposition to call for Trudeau to resign.

But what exactly would happen if Canada’s minority Liberal government is defeated this fall?

As the country struggles to keep its numbers of COVID-19 cases at bay, it's certainly a risky time to call people to the polls.

As of Tuesday, Canada has experienced over 126,000 cases of the virus and 9,087 deaths. 

Elections Canada is currently looking into safe ways to hold a possible federal election amid the global pandemic.

The agency has set up an internal working group to lead its planning effort. Among other things, the group is looking at:

  • Procedures and possible physical distancing measures that could be put in place at polling stations and Elections Canada offices.
  • The capacity of Elections Canada's existing vote-by-mail system.
  • How to recruit, train and keep election workers safe.

At this point, Elections Canada is not considering online voting.

The agency states that implementing such a change would require "significant planning and testing in order to ensure that the agency preserves certain aspects of the vote, including confidentiality, secrecy, reliability and integrity."

"Given the current operational and time constraints, this option cannot be explored properly at this time."

For now, Canada will look to New Brunswick’s example, as it becomes the first jurisdiction to hold a general election amid the pandemic on Sept. 14.

As part of the province's safety measures, a staff member will stand outside all polls offering hand sanitizer and masks. A second staff member will be cleaning often-touched surfaces, such as ballot markers.

Both voters and workers will be asked to wear masks, and there will also be arrows on the floor indicating where people should stand to allow for proper social distancing. 

Voters who do not wish to physically visit the polls can instead apply for a mail-in ballot.

Meanwhile, the situation south of the border could further influence how Canada would deal with an election during the pandemic. 

The U.S. federal elections are scheduled to take place on Nov. 3, with most states allowing Americans to vote by mail.

Whether or not there will be a federal election in Canada this year remains to be seen, however it is certain that the health and safety of citizens will be at the forefront of discussions before any solid decision can be made.  

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