Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in February. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Suspense building for potential federal election

With federal party leaders doing campaign-style tours, an election may be on the horizon

Suspense is building for a potential federal election to drop in the coming weeks.

While the election writ has yet to drop, leaders of federal parties have been criss-crossing the country on campaign-style tours.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole have made stops recently in British Columbia to make funding announcements or to pledge action on various issues.

“You can sort of tell that it looks as though the Prime Minister is doing the same motions that would indicate he is going to call an election,” said Rob Morrison, the incumbent Kootenay-Columbia Member of Parliament. “Of course, nobody knows for sure until he calls it.”

Locally, candidates for the riding of Kootenay-Columbia have already announced their intentions to run.

Wayne Stetski will be running for the NDP, Robin Goldsbury will carry the Liberal Party banner, both of whom stood for their respective parties in the 2019 election. Rana Nelson was recently acclaimed as the Green Party candidate, while Morrison will run once again for the Conservative Party.

To call a federal election, the Prime Minister must approach the Governor General and request the dissolution of parliament, which is typically granted and a writ of election is issued.

Last election cycle, the writ was issued on Sept. 11, 2019, with a campaign period spanning 40 days. In the previous federal election before that, the writ was dropped on Aug. 4, 2015.

Under recent amendments to the Canada Elections Act, a campaign period must not be shorter than 36 days, nor exceed 50 days.

In 2020, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan held general provincial elections amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In B.C., Premier John Horgan faced criticism for calling an election as the pandemic’s second wave was underway

Last summer, Elections Canada issued a news release outlining administrative changes and pandemic-related procedures in the event of a federal election, such as increasing capacity for the vote-by-mail system and implementing physical distancing protocols at polling stations.

“I say we’re at a point now where we can have polling stations and we can do that safely,” said Morrison.