ontario news watch

Trudeau says Liberal budget is not a launch pad for a federal election

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insists Monday’s federal budget is not intended as a launching pad for an election later this year but he’s not entirely ruling one out.

Trudeau says it will be up to Parliament to decide if there’s an election before the end of this year.

That appears to suggest that Trudeau doesn’t intend to pull the plug himself on his minority Liberal government.

However, it doesn’t preclude the possibility that the Liberals could try to orchestrate their defeat at the hands of opposition parties, all three of which would have to vote non-confidence in the government to bring it down and force an election.

Nor does it preclude the possibility of Trudeau at some point claiming that a dysfunctional minority Parliament requires him to seek a majority mandate.

Trudeau made the comments during an interview Tuesday with Edmonton-based online talk show host Ryan Jespersen, who noted that opposition parties and some pundits are calling Monday’s economic blueprint an election budget.

“It’s amazing to me that people can look at a budget that is focused on supporting people, both in the short term and building for the longer term, and say, ‘Oh, it’s just about an election,'” he said.

“No, it’s not about an election. It’s about giving people the support they need. It’s about getting that balance right between being there right now for people while they continue to need supports through COVID, to helping our businesses bounce back from this recession and also putting in place the pathway to be even more prosperous … in the coming months.

“That’s the job of a government to do, particularly on the way out of a crisis.”

Asked if he would rule out an election this year, Trudeau said he’s focused on getting the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. But he noted: “We’re in a minority government right now.”

“It’ll be up to Parliament to decide when the election is.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2021.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press