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Trudeau to call federal election? Possibly—indicates polls, cabinet shuffle

Although Premier Ford has vowed not to hold provincial elections amidst the pandemic until his majority expires in 2022, it is becoming increasingly apparent the Prime Minister is considering to gamble by hosting a fresh federal election.

It is tradition for governments to cycle in (and out) ministers who will be part of the upcoming cabinet prior to an election. Recently, a cabinet shuffle has occurred as Liberal MP Navdeep Bains, ex-Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, was replaced by François-Philippe Champagne. Champagne was foreign affairs minister until the shuffle; his position was filled by Marc Garneau, whose transport minister portfolio was in turn filled by Omar Alghabra. Given the paucity of Western representation in Cabinet (due to a lack of Liberal support in the region), Jim Carr has been elevated as a Minister without Portfolio (the first since 1978, ironically last used by Trudeau Sr.) to represent the Prairies. Currently, he is the only Liberal cabinet minister west of Ontario and east of the British Columbia shoreline.

When asked if the shuffle foreshadowed an upcoming springtime election, the Prime Minister "did not explicitly rule out an early election, saying he'd prefer not to go into a campaign before all Canadians who want one can get a vaccine for COVID-19," according to CBC.

Given the weakness of a minority government, this shuffle seems to be an attempt by the Liberal Party to get their cards in place in preparation for another shot in office. Minority governments don't last long - the average duration is around 479 days - and the Prime Minister has just surpassed the 400-day mark. (It should be noted that Prime Minister Harper's two consecutive minorities, both lasting around 2 1/2 years, are very much the exception and not the norm).

Does O'Toole have a chance? Unlikely, says Kirk LaPointe. Rightfully so, he points out Canadians are more interested in mitigating the spread of COVID than its fiscal impact, and presently value climate change over finances. The polls reflect this: there have been no significant polls since February 2020 that place the Conservatives in the lead above Trudeau; O'Toole's election last fall seems to have done little to change public opinion. With this in mind, a Liberal government - majority or minority - awaits us in the not-so-distant future.

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