The federal government will announce Monday that it is scrapping the country’s first-ever election-year election, instead opting to run the 2019 election on a two-year pilot basis.
The move was a surprise, even as Trudeau, a former chief electoral officer, had publicly stated he would prefer to run as an opposition.
The Liberals had hoped to launch the campaign on April 1, 2019, and hoped to see a new leader elected by mid-2019.
But that would have put the election campaign on hold, and it was also the earliest possible date for a formal declaration of a new government.
“The decision to postpone the 2019 federal election is made to ensure we have a clear mandate and a strong leader to govern,” Trudeau said in a statement.
“We have the mandate to get the economy moving and to get our economy back on track.”
The decision was also made to expedite the process of forming a new federal government, with the new Liberal government having to be sworn in on July 6.
“This is a great opportunity for Canadians to elect a new Liberal Party leader, and to have the opportunity to run in 2019 on a pilot basis, to make sure that Canadians are confident in the new government and in the leadership that we will have,” Trudeau added.
“It’s a great chance to build a new, strong, progressive and inclusive party.”
The Liberal Party’s election platform also calls for “a more inclusive, open and fair Canada,” with a pledge to eliminate the “burden of high student debt” and to make public colleges and universities tuition-free.
The NDP has not made a formal opposition to the 2019 campaign.
But party officials have been discussing the possibility of holding the campaign in 2019 in the event the Liberals choose to run under an opposition banner.
“With this election in the rear-view mirror, it’s clear that we need to be focused on delivering on our core promise of affordable, high-quality public education, to create jobs and strengthen the middle class,” said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
“I’m not surprised that the Liberal Party has chosen to hold a pilot campaign, but I’m disappointed it has chosen this date and in this context.”
The announcement comes as Trudeau faces growing calls from NDP critics to abandon the election-season campaign.
“A year ago, there was a real sense of inevitability that this campaign would be a failure, a disappointment,” said Liberal MP Joyce Murray, who is also the party’s interim leader.
“And it wasn’t.
We were the leader in the House of Commons, we were the opposition leader in Parliament and we were elected in 2019.
We can’t let the opposition go away.”
Murray is not the only NDP MP expressing concerns about the Liberals’ decision.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he is “deeply disappointed” by the announcement.
“If the Liberal Government is serious about making this a more inclusive and open Canada, it should now do the right thing and delay this election,” Singh said in an emailed statement.