Canada’s federal election: What you need to know

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole, left, and Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, at a French-language debate Sept. 8 in Gatineau, Quebec. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press/AP)

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a snap federal election for Monday, betting that he would regain a majority in the House of Commons on the back of his handling of the pandemic. Now Canadian voters will deliver their verdict on the Liberal Party leader’s gamble.

Opposition leaders of all political stripes griped about the decision to call an election in the fourth wave of the pandemic, casting it as “reckless” and “irresponsible” — an example, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said, of Trudeau putting his “own political interests ahead of the well-being of thousands of people.”

It hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk for Trudeau, whose lead over O’Toole’s Conservatives eroded in the first weeks of the 36-day campaign. The parties are running neck and neck in the polls.

The campaign hasn’t been pretty. Vandals defaced candidate lawn signs with antisemitic graffiti. Protesters, including many who oppose coronavirus vaccines, dogged Trudeau on the campaign trail. At one event, they pelted him with gravel. At another, they posed enough of a security threat that officials canceled it.

“I’ve never seen this intensity of anger on the campaign trail, or in Canada,” said Trudeau, the son of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, whose energy policies fueled ire in western Canada in the 1980s. “Not when I was a kid, even with my dad visiting out west, where we did see anger. Certainly not in my last 12 years as a politician.”