Trudeau Sets Voting Date; Singh Touts Tax Plan: Election Update

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(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an election for Sept. 20, seeking to retake a majority in Canada’s parliament on the back of polls showing many voters approve of his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Public opinion surveys show his Liberals, in power since 2015, with support in the mid-30% range — near the threshold they’ll need to regain control of the 338-seat House of Commons.

Trudeau will have to make gains among swing voters in key suburban ridings around Montreal and Vancouver and perform well in Toronto and southern Ontario. The Conservative Party is the Liberals’ key opponent, though the New Democratic Party has pockets of strong support and the Bloc Quebecois remains a political force in Quebec.

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Trudeau will campaign on the message that continuity is needed to fight the pandemic and continue the economic recovery. “Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against Covid-19 and build back better,” the prime minister said at a news conference.

Half of Canadians believe his government has done a good job of managing the Covid-19 crisis, according to a poll by Nanos Research Group for Bloomberg News. Another 26% are neutral on the question.

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NDP’s Singh Wants Taxes on Wealthy (2:11 pm NY)

New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh attacked Trudeau’s decision to call an election during the Covid-19 crisis, saying it was a power play and not in the best interest of Canadians.He spoke about his economic platform, which includes higher taxes on companies and top-earning individuals. The NDP is proposing to boost the top income tax rate, increase taxes on capital gains and impose a temporary 15% tax on “large corporate windfall profits” during the pandemic.

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“We are going to make them pay their fair share and invest that into health care, housing, into justice for indigenous people,” Singh said at a news conference in Montreal.

Conservative Leader Questioned on Vaccines (1:45 pm NY)

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was asked several times about vaccine mandates and whether his party’s candidates would be vaccinated.

O’Toole — who got Covid-19 last September — made it clear that he supports vaccines and encourages everyone who’s eligible to get one, but the party’s position is not to make them mandatory.

“I think we can have also have an approach that uses a whole suite of health measures, from rapid testing and screening, mask usage, to have reasonable accommodations for people that may not be vaccinated, whether young children or other people,” he said at a news conference. “We have to use all of the tools and not divide Canadians — let’s work together to fight the fourth wave.”

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Last week, Trudeau’s government said it would impose new vaccine requirements on federal civil servants and transportation workers. It also wants to make vaccines mandatory to travel by commercial air or interprovincial railway in Canada.

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That’s viewed by some as a move to increase the pressure on O’Toole, whose party includes some vaccine skeptics.

Conservatives Attack on Living Costs (12:40 pm NY)

O’Toole used his opening press conference to push an economic message.

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The election isn’t about the next year, but “the next four years,” he said. “It’s about who will deliver the economic recovery Canada needs. It’s about who will take action to protect Canadians from spiraling living costs, from rising taxes, from poorer services.”

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Inflation has been above the Bank of Canada’s 1% to 3% range since April, though Governor Tiff Macklem has said Canadians “shouldn’t overreact to these temporary price increases.”

Trudeau Pressed on Afghanistan (11:55 am NY)

Trudeau was asked by reporters about the situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has entered the capital city, Kabul, and American-backed President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country, according to reports.

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“We are in close contact with our allies, with the Americans who have increased their troop presence on the ground to secure the airport and green zone around Kabul,” he said. Canada will try to get Afghan interpreters and their families out of the country “as quickly as possible, as long as the security situation holds” and to resettle refugees, he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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