Now is not the time for an election, some farmers say
By Diego Flammini
Some producers in Western Canada aren’t pleased about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to send Canadians to the polls next month in a federal election.
The prime minister made the announcement Sunday outside Rideau Hall in Ottawa after Gov. Gen. Mary Simon accepted his request to dissolve Parliament.
“Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against COVID-19 and build back better – from getting the job done on vaccines, to having people’s backs all the way through to the end of this crisis,” Trudeau said.
Canadians will vote on Sept. 20 after a 36-day campaign – the minimum length permitted by law.
But for some producers, now is not the time for an election.
“I think it’s a joke to be heading into an election in the condition we’re in right now,” Derek Robinson, a cash crop producer from Eston, Sask., told Farms.com.
A drought continues to affect farms in Western Canada and wildfires are forcing more British Columbians from their homes.
In addition, Canada is in its fourth wave of the pandemic, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, announced on Aug. 12.
The prime minister should be looking after Canadians and not sending voters to the polls. This decision could backfire on him, Robinson said.
Trudeau “should be focused on what’s going on across the country,” he said. “He’s already the prime minister and would’ve had another two years until an election was needed. I think this (election) is going to end badly for him.”
Amanda Sande, a cash crop and beef producer from near Olds, Alta., agrees with Robinson.
Farmers are trying to navigate the ongoing drought and finish harvest. Adding a federal election campaign creates another layer of stress, she said.
“We’re just trying to make the next few months count,” she told Farms.com. “Trying to fit in listening to candidates and deciding who to vote for is just another thing on our list.”
Sande also views the election as divisive.
Trudeau is favouring Eastern Canada while ignoring the Prairies, she said.
“It’s so sad that Eastern Canada doesn’t care about Western Canada once again,” she said. “Western Canada is in a huge wreck, but Ontario and Quebec aren’t, so (Trudeau) wants to capitalize on that.”
The Liberals earned enough support in the last federal election without a seat in Western Canada.
Trudeau and the Liberals won 157 seats in 2019 without earning one in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba. A party needs 170 seats to earn a majority.
Another Prairie shutout wouldn’t be surprising, Robinson said.
“Trudeau doesn’t need Western Canada to win,” he said. “The west has always been conservative, and I imagine it will be again.”
Voters can find their electoral districts and other information on the Elections Canada website.