Conservative MP and leadership candidate Erin O’Toole says while he plans to bring down the Liberal government if elected as leader at “the right time,” he isn’t saying whether or not that will be this fall.
In an interview with The West Block host Mercedes Stephenson, O’Toole was asked whether or not he shares the view of Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet that an election should be triggered this fall because of the WE Charity scandal, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He was also asked whether he would commit to wait for advice from scientists and Elections Canada, which is currently doing readiness planning for a potential election in the midst of a pandemic.
“In recent years we’ve had more advance polling, so this is not rocket science,” O’Toole said, noting that his children will be among those returning to school next month.
“This can be done safely and effectively and it will be, and we will bring down this corrupt and incompetent government at the right time, but we will have to see what the will of the people is in Parliament.”
For weeks the government has been embroiled in accusations of conflict of interest over the decision to grant the controversial WE Charity organization administration over a student service grant program.
Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have family financial ties to the group but did not recuse themselves from discussions about the deal at the cabinet table.
Both are now under investigation by the ethics commissioner.
Blanchet last week said he would move a motion of non-confidence in October to try to trigger an election over the scandal if Trudeau, Morneau and the prime minister’s chief of staff do not resign.
But public health officials are warning about the possibility of a second wave of the pandemic in the fall and said on Friday there is a risk the health systems could be overwhelmed if cases spike.
Elections Canada is in the process of weighing how best to conduct an election during a pandemic or in the aftermath given the higher risks to older and vulnerable Canadians.
The agency says it expects to be ready for a wide range of scenarios by April 2021 and that while it could conduct an election before that, those mitigation measures being planned and researched might not be fully available
“If an election were to take place prior to April 2021, Elections Canada would put in place the mitigation measures developed up to that point in time,” the agency says on its website. “These measures will be developed in consultation with health experts and clearly communicated to electors.”
O’Toole said he plans to consult with caucus if he is elected leader to hear their thoughts before making any decision on whether to support a push for an election.
The Conservatives, Bloc and NDP would all need to agree in order to have the number of votes needed to topple the government, and the NDP has so far suggested the party sees a way to continue making things work with the government so long as reforms to things like Employment Insurance are done.
Coronavirus has so far killed more than 9,000 Canadians and sickened roughly 121,354 others.
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