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Is a spring election called for? St. Albertans weigh in

St. Albert residents and Sturgeon River-Parkland MP react to the possibility of an early election this year
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Prime Minister Trudeau gives a press conference about the cabinet shuffle outside his home on Jan. 12, 2021. SCREENSHOT

There’s been a lot of election talk lately and the response from St. Albert residents about whether that's a good thing has been mixed.

Dane Lloyd, MP for Sturgeon River-Parkland, thinks an election in the next few months would be irresponsible – despite what he’s heard from some of his constituents.

“Some of them really want an election. They want an opportunity to get rid of (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) as soon as possible. But what I'm telling them is, ‘You may want that, and you know I agree ... but it's inappropriate, and it's irresponsible to do it at this time,’” Lloyd said.

On Jan. 12, Trudeau announced a cabinet shuffle, a move that many believed signified the potential of an election.

Trudeau told reporters his preference is to not have an early election, as his main goal is to get Canada through the pandemic. The shuffle came after Canada's Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry Navdeep Bains stepped down from his role.

Lloyd said he believes Bains was shuffled out because he was not interested in running again. But for the prime minister to announce a cabinet shuffle this early in the year could signal an election ahead, he said.

“For the prime minister to ask him to do this at this point, in January, indicates to me that they are preparing for the possibility of a spring election,” explained Lloyd.

He said he wants an election to happen, but not until the pandemic is over so that Canadians can review the government’s actions during the pandemic as well as what they plan on doing in the future. To have an election in the spring would not give Canadians a true choice, Lloyd said.

“If we do have a spring election and the numbers have not significantly come down then I think it's a clear indication to Canadians, where this government's priorities lie. And, frankly, it's not with the health and safety of Canadians,” said Lloyd.

Residents weigh in

David Hergott, a St. Albert resident, said he doesn’t like the idea of an election being “forced on to Canadians at a time when it should not be,” but he is ready to vote.

“I don't have any concerns or fears about the cost of an election or the inconvenience in a pandemic. I'll show up to a voting booth with a mask on like I do when I go anywhere else … but I think the election needs to happen,” he said.

Hergott said he gives the Liberal government credit for their reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, namely for establishing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). However, he said he is frustrated with the federal government's ability to procure enough vaccines.  

Fiscal management and transparency is another concern, Hergott said.

“Given the Liberals track record for not being transparent – and some of our prime minister's current ethical troubles and past ethical convictions – I'm concerned that Canadians are not getting the full (budget) story. And that's why I think an election is necessary."

Andrew Traynor, a St. Albert resident, has experience working for politicians during pandemics. He volunteered for the B.C. NDP party during the provincial election last fall.

“It was weird just talking to people online in a campaign where there's been none of that door-to-door stuff, and I'd be curious what that would look like Canada-wide,” said Traynor.

Traynor said he isn’t surprised there might be an election soon, but hopes it won't happen until after COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out. 

“I worry that in calling (an election) now, we'd be asking to give the government a mark when they're still doing the work,” he said.

Overall, Traynor said the Liberals have done a relatively good job with the pandemic, but he doesn’t believe CERB or supports for small businesses went far enough.

“We can pass judgment on this pandemic response once we're back to normal," he said. "I just think now is not the time.”