The petition, launched by non-profit organization Democracy Watch, comes as rumours swirl that an election call is coming this summer.
“A snap election will be dangerous for many voters. A fourth wave of COVID-19 is expected across Canada this fall, more contagious than ever, as many people are still not fully vaccinated,” Democracy Watch said in a news release. “Voters who are vulnerable to COVID-19 will, completely justifiably, feel hesitant about going to a polling station to vote.”
The organization also argues that a snap election is “illegal, dishonest, and unfair” for many voters.
Ottawa University law professor Errol Mendes told The Canadian Press last month that the governor general, as a representative of the Queen, has in theory the power to refuse a request from Trudeau to dissolve Parliament.
However, that power has not been used for nearly 100 years because Canada has been regarded as an independent country from the United Kingdom.
That denial came in 1926 when Lord Julian Byng refused prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s request to dissolve Parliament and call an early election, Mendes said.
The refusal led to a constitutional crisis known as the King-Byng Affair, where Byng asked the largest party in Parliament at that time – Arthur Meighen’s Conservatives, which held the most seats – to form government.
Mackenzie King won a subsequent election after campaigning on the basis that the governor general doesn’t have the right to reject a request from the prime minister to dissolve Parliament.
Mendes added the crisis will likely be brought to the attention of Simon and she will basically “learn from that situation,” and accept the anticipated request from Trudeau to call an early election.
Last month, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh asked Simon to refuse any request from Trudeau for an election, noting that the fixed-election law states that every general election must be held on the third Monday of October four calendar years after the last one.
Singh said in a letter that the law allows for an early election if the government has lost the confidence of the house, but the Trudeau government has won every confidence vote it has faced including on the speech from the throne and the budget.
Democracy Watch raises the same point.
“Whenever a snap election is called, it is unfair because voters have no time to plan and arrange their lives so they can run as a candidate, volunteer or participate in the election in other ways,” the group said.
“That’s why Parliament decided to fix the federal election date in Canada’s election law. It makes the election more fair for everyone.”
Mendes said the prime minister has the right to ask for an early election under the Constitution and the fixed-election law does not change that.
Anticipation of an election is rising as federal party leaders have been travelling around the county on campaign-style tours in recent weeks.
Right now, the next federal election is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2023.
— with files from The Canadian Press