Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he does not need to call an election to get a mandate from Canadians to implement the coming federal budget because he already has one.
Trudeau made the remarks in an interview with Peter Mansbridge, the former host of The National who now hosts The Bridge podcast, which can also be heard on Sirius XM.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the first federal budget in more than two years will be delivered on April 19.
The budget is expected to provide a full accounting of all government spending through the pandemic, which has sent the deficit for the fiscal year to almost $400 billion.
It is also expected to outline the Liberals’ plan to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the coming years on stimulus to help the economy recover.
The prime minister was asked if he thought he needed to go to Canadians for a fresh mandate to implement the budget. Trudeau pointed out that he was not given a mandate to renegotiate NAFTA after being first elected in 2015.
“We got elected in 2019 with a mandate to keep working on reconciliation, keep working on the vulnerable, keep working on the economy and this pandemic happened,” he said. “And yes, we’ve had to do all sorts of things that weren’t talked about in that election campaign, but they’re also things that are true to the leadership and the values and the frame that I’ve put forward.
“I think people can pretty much understand that faced with this crisis, they know the values we’re going to have. But yes, there are going to be really important political debates about what the recovery looks like.”
Trudeau said the budget will try to address current needs while addressing longer-term problems by increasing supports for mental health, dealing with the opioid crisis, pursuing reconciliation and providing supports for seniors.
“Its very much a balance in a way that most budgets aren’t, where you just think in the frame of the next few years,” he said.
Trudeau told Mansbridge that he will be running again whenever the next election comes. He also said he’s not thinking about an election now.
“We have folks who keep talking about elections, especially opposition politicians and journalists,” he said. “I’m going to try and keep trying to deliver everything I can for Canadians, because quite frankly, people don’t want to be worried about elections, they want to be worried about when they’re going to get vaccinated.”
Trudeau said he understands that, after more than a year of the pandemic, Canadians are anxious to know if they’ll be able to celebrate Canada Day with friends — something he said could happen if the conditions are right.
“I think it’s possible that we are able to gather with small numbers of friends and family,” he said. “I certainly hope that this summer is going to be a lot better than the winter has been and better than spring will be able to be.”
The timeline for lifting pandemic restrictions will depend on what happens with new, more contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus.
“It really depends on the shape of the variant curve we are a part of,” he said.
“We’re talking tens and tens of millions of doses of vaccines coming into this country before June. If all of those get into arms before the end of June, well, July could look much better than the months before it.”
Trudeau said he wants to see the vaccination process move faster.
“We have to recognize that the Americans have a domestic pharmaceutical industry that’s producing millions upon millions of vaccines every single week, and we don’t have that in Canada and it’s not something we could have stood up in the year since the pandemic was declared,” he said.
“I think we did as well as any Canadian government could have. I think we are starting to emerge from the darkness. But it’s almost like one of those bad movies where as you get close to the end, there’s one last danger and that’s these variants that are coming really hard and heavy and much more transmissible. So we have to hang in there, even though we’re all exhausted.”
Canada’s vaccine supply depends on global supply chains. Many of Canada’s vaccine shipments are coming from within the European Union, which is threatening to impose vaccine export restrictions that could affect Canada.
The office of Minister of Small Business Mary Ng told CBC News late Tuesday evening that Canada’s vaccine supply should be safe.
“Minister Ng’s counterparts have assured her that these measures will not affect vaccine shipments to Canada, and our government has been in constant contact with our counterparts in the EU and its member states at all levels of government,” the statement said.
The full interview with Trudeau on The Bridge aired on Sirius XM Channel 167 at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday.