Braid: The federal election is coming soon, maybe with a few surprises for Alberta


Liberal election preparations have moved from busy to frenetic. The call could come soon for a national vote in September.

Liberal candidates and campaign workers are being bombarded with events planned by party central. The most interesting, according to a batch of messages passed on to me, is for a “weekend virtual bootcamp” on Aug. 14.

This is a giant cheerleading session that typically precedes the formal writ drop. Some expect the call to come Aug. 15 for voting on Sept. 20.

That would mean a 36-day federal campaign, the minimum required.

But campaigns can last up to 50 days. The federal chief electoral officer, Stéphane Perrault, told a Commons committee in June that he prefers a campaign longer than 36 days, a rare public opinion from the person who runs the voting.

“There is merit to a longer writ period in a pandemic, because everything takes more time,” Perrault said, quite reasonably.

This suggests the call could come earlier in August or the voting later in September.

It gets confusing, but those involved in Liberal campaigns are pretty sure of one thing, the election will be over by the end of September.

According to The Hill Times, candidates have been told to secure two-month leases for campaign offices.

In Alberta, some people involved are being encouraged to cancel holidays set for August and September. Nominations, mostly by acclamation, are rushing ahead.

All this could be cancelled on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s whim, of course. It’s still a ludicrous feature of our system that the person with the deepest self-interest gets to set the date.

But the machine is in top gear now. Postponing for weeks or months would demoralize candidates. Far worse, from the Liberal viewpoint, the government could be faced with a fall wave of COVID-19.