The federal election campaign is officially a go.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Wednesday in Ottawa shortly after a meeting with Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall.
“A few moments ago, I met with Her Excellency the Governor General, who granted my request to dissolve Parliament,” he told reporters, speaking in French.
“Canadians will go to the polls on Oct. 21.”
Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party, will have five and a half weeks to convince Canadians to give his government a second chance when they head to the polls on Oct. 21.
Under federal elections law, this coming Sunday marked the last possible date for the start of a federal campaign.
Those campaigns must be at least 36 days long and cannot exceed 50 days.
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Traditional political thinking suggests that a shorter, tighter campaign can benefit incumbent governments.
Longer campaigns, so the thinking goes, run a greater risk of unpredictability and potential upsets.
The last federal election in 2015 ran roughly 78 days, a record length for a Canadian political campaign, and saw the incumbent Conservatives lose to the then third-place Liberals in an upset that only became apparent in polls of voter intentions toward the very end of that campaign.
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Throughout the campaign, both Trudeau and Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer are expected to spend a significant amount of time in the battleground ridings of the seat-rich Greater Toronto Area, where the path to victory will lie.
A majority government — one in which a party does not need to rely on support from other parties to pass its bills — requires a single party to win at least 170 seats.
Trudeau won a majority government in 2015 with 184 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives held 99 while the New Democrats had 44.
The Bloc Quebecois had 10 while the Greens got one — their leader, Elizabeth May.
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By the time the House of Commons rose for the summer in June 2019, the Liberals stood at 177 seats compared to the Conservatives at 95, the NDP at 40, the Bloc at 10 and the Greens at three.
Several other MPs were also sitting as Independents, including Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, who were kicked out of caucus by Trudeau for raising concerns about the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Both are running as Independent candidates in this election.
The Conservatives also lost Maxime Bernier, who was elected under their banner but quit to start the People’s Party of Canada.
And while the Greens have seen a surge in popularity in recent provincial elections and federal by-elections, the NDP under leader Jagmeet Singh has plummeted in the polls and heads into the campaign having lost one-third of its incumbent MPs, who opted not to seek re-election.
The official debates with the major party leaders are set to take place on Oct. 7 in English and Oct. 10 in French.
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