Pandemic politics; elections on the horizon in Maritimes and beyond
HALIFAX -- After partisanship largely took a break during the early days of COVID-19, politics is ramping up across the board and throughout all levels of Canadian government.
Even a political junkie like Christina Hayes has been finding it a challenge to keep up with everything in this day and age.
“I usually am the one that keeps up the most in the family, but I think we’ve all been kind of distracted with COVID, so we’re all losing touch with everything going on in the world,” says Hayes.
“I think the pandemic really showed the benefit of non-partisan political problem solving,” says Don Wright, a political science professor at the University of New Brunswick.
Wright says that trend of parties working together was never going to last forever, and this month’s call for a New Brunswick election displays that politics are returning to normal.
And New Brunswick isn’t the only Maritime province where politics is returning to the spotlight.
Municipal elections in Nova Scotia will be held on October 17, with residents able to vote in person, online or by phone, depending on where they live.
Nova Scotia’s Liberal party will choose a new leader in February, who will become Stephen McNeil’s replacement as Premier. Candidates have until October 9th to register. That vote will happen electronically and by phone.
In Ottawa, Canada's Parliament has been shut down. The Trudeau minority government will present a Throne Speech when Parliament resumes in late September, which will prompt a confidence vote.
Many Canadians also are following the events south of the border, where Americans will vote on whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States on November 3.
“You can vote now,” says Ariel Harper Nave, a dual American/Canadian citizen who has already mailed in her ballot for the U.S. election. “Democracy is so fragile, we will lose it if we don’t exercise it. This is the way we can make our voices heard consistently.”
“I’m very concerned as a scholar and citizen about voter disinterest and voter decline over the past couple of decades,” says Wright. “I really hope the pandemic doesn’t dissuade people from showing up to a ballot box, or requesting a special ballot and voting by mail.”
The New Brunswick election is the first election to happen in Canada since the pandemic shutdown the country in March.
“I’m confident it can set an example for the rest of the country, how you can have an election during a pandemic,” says Wright.
Municipal elections in New Brunswick were scheduled to be held in March, but have been delayed until May 2021, although it is possible they could be held before that.