By Samantha Bader, Co-President
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap election on August 15th, 2021, he did so in order to attempt to get a clear mandate from the Canadian electorate and hopefully gain a majority Liberal government. Instead, just over five weeks later, Canadians have the exact same government and are on the hook for $610 million dollars.
While this election was incredibly expensive, a large part of the additional cost compared to the 2019 election was due to the COVID-19 protocols that Elections Canada needed to put into place at voting stations. However, the lion’s share of costs associated with running any election is staffing and securing office space for polling locations across all three hundred and thirty eight ridings.
A professor at Dalhousie University, Lars Osberg said, “When you have an election in COVID times, you have to have more people around the polls, you have to have Plexiglas everywhere, you have to have all the COVID protocols.”
This accounted for about $50 million of the price tag. Standard population growth, and an increase in eligible voters will eat up another $50 million, according to Elections Canada. The taxpayers have to pay for all of it, as election funds are drawn from the federal government’s consolidated revenue fund, which is comprised of tax revenue, and other fines.
Elections are of course a necessary expense in a democratic country, but this particular election was not essential. Had Trudeau not called an election, he and his cabinet could have continued to govern, and focus more on helping Canadians through yet another wave of COVID-19, and less on photo ops and interviews.
There is a very strong case to be made that this money could have been used much more effectively by the Liberal government. COVID-19 has Canada’s economy sinking, there is a climate crisis that needs to be fought, and many Indigenous communities in Canada still do not have clean drinking water. These funds could have been used to create a policy that would facilitate the creation of jobs in clean energy across Canada. This would create more jobs for struggling Canadians, while also moving Canada further away from fossil fuels. As so, many Canadians have had to tighten their own belts in order to make it through this period of economic depression, it does seem rather tone deaf to spend over $500 million dollars on a snap election.
Trudeau called an election with the sole intention of gaining his own government a majority. That failed, and Canadians woke up last week with the same parliamentary makeup that we have had since 2019. Canadians can be forgiven for wondering, what exactly was the point of all this. Now it is up to Trudeau to prove, once and for all, that he is actually a leader capable of meeting the moment.