Most Canadians are in favour of postponing elections due to coronavirus

Most Canadians feel that elections in the country should be pushed until COVID-19 is under control.

Most Canadians feel that elections in the country should be pushed back until the COVID-19 coronavirus is under control, according to a Global News Ipsos poll.

The poll showed that 72 percent of Canadians support postponing elections while the coronavirus pandemic is still underway.

Of the men surveyed, 60 percent said they are strongly against the elections being delayed compared to just 33 percent of women.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba showed the least support for delaying elections at 59 percent in favour.

The poll shows that the two provinces that have the most support for continuing their elections on time also have the least recorded satisfaction with premiers.

Saskatchewan is currently set to move forward with its election by October 2020.

Scott Moe, the premier of Saskatchewan, said that the election will go forward on October 26 no matter what is happening with the coronavirus curve.

At a press conference held last week, Moe noted that the election is "likely to look a lot different than the last election looked like four and a half years ago."

"I have every confidence our chief electoral officer will ensure that we are able to conduct that election in a very safe manner across this province," he added.

Canada has only once delayed an election, and that was a postponement of more than five years and was on account of the First World War.

Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker says the move to delay would not be a surprising one.

"(People) really want their politicians, all public agencies, everyone in the country focused on this problem of dealing with this terrible virus and the disease that it creates," Bricker said.

"Politicking as normal is not seen as an appropriate thing at this time."

Lisa Young, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary said the relevance of the data is "really a question of how long we’re going to be living under these circumstances."

"Depending on how long the pandemic lasts, there is going to be a necessity to think about how we can hold elections in ways that don’t put people at risk," she added.

Young said that provinces only need to have elections every five years. She described delaying the date as "perfectly reasonable" though waiting over five years would present "significant" political impacts.

"Any time you essentially set aside the Constitution in order to delay holding an election, you raise the question of whether you are taking away people’s fundamental political rights," said Young.

"I would assume under most circumstances that a government that did this would be punished when an election was eventually held because they had taken away citizens' right to vote."

University of Waterloo political science professor, Dr. Bessma Momani said waiting too long to hold an election may have serious consequences.

"The democratic vote is an essential part of grading the government's actions, behaviours and policies," she said. "If you don’t have that mechanism, governments will not feel that they have a responsibility in the same way."

She touched on the way politicians' campaigns could be changed by the pandemic.

"How governments try to make this as inclusive as possible will often be explained by whether or not they would be successful at the polls," Momani said.

She said that postponing the elections would be in a government's best interest if they have an older voting base full of people who are less likely to show up to the poll. But a government like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's, that does well with the younger generation, might decide to create policies that allow for voting online or mail-in.

Momani also spoke about what she calls the "urban versus rural" debate which could affect the way politicians move forward with the campaign trail.

"Highly dense urban areas maybe feel less comfortable (lining up for the polls), particularly because we know the virus thrives in dense situations, while rural communities may feel more comfortable because they have less cases," she said.