The Liberal Party named Azam Ishmael as campaign director Friday amid heightened speculation that Justin Trudeau will engineer an election call before the House of Commons is scheduled to return in September.
The House adjourned Wednesday and is set to resume on Sept. 20. But there have been numerous signs in recent weeks that the government has an election in mind.
One of the most obvious was an accommodation that allowed all MPs who are not seeking re-election to give farewell speeches this month, even though the current Parliament is less than two years old.
The Liberals were reduced to a minority government in the October, 2019, election. While fixed elections are scheduled to take place once every four years, the Prime Minister can still request an election at any time.
In a news release Friday afternoon, the Liberal Party said they were naming Mr. Ishmael, who has been the party’s national director since 2017, to lead their next campaign.
“Whenever the election arrives, Azam’s experience and leadership will ensure our party continues to build an effective and empowering campaign,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.
Mr. Ishmael was previously the party’s director for getting out the vote in the 2015 campaign that saw the Liberals win a majority government. He was previously a senior policy analyst for the Nova Scotia government, a senior adviser to both the Ontario education minister and rural-affairs minister, and an executive director for the Liberal caucus service bureau in Ontario.
In recent weeks, Mr. Trudeau and senior ministers have criticized what they describe as a lack of co-operation in the minority Parliament. The comments were seen by political observers as an attempt to lay the foundation for the party to argue that an early election is required.
While the opposition parties have at times worked together to outvote Liberal MPs on motions to produce sensitive documents, the Liberals have had little trouble winning support for confidence votes on issues such as the budget. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said his party would not vote to trigger an election during a pandemic, while Bloc Québécois MPs have recently voted with the Liberals in Parliament to shut down debate on legislation to move government bills along.
Liberal spokesperson Braeden Caley told The Globe on Friday that the party has started to allow limited in-person door-knocking in parts of British Columbia, in accordance with local public-health guidelines. More of this activity across the country will start over the summer as provincial COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Also this week, the party confirmed regional campaign co-chairs for all provinces and territories.
Elections Canada recently released campaign guidance for political parties related to canvassing during COVID-19.
The document includes several suggestions such as campaigners keeping at least two metres from others, and avoiding handshakes and the distribution of pamphlets and buttons.
The Liberals, who have nominated candidates in 172 of 338 ridings, have named Navdeep Bains and Mélanie Joly as co-chairs of the party’s national campaign committee, and Mona Fortier and Terry Duguid as co-chairs of the national platform committee.
Jeremy Broadhurst, a former national director of the Liberal Party of Canada, was the party’s campaign director in 2019.
Fred DeLorey, who managed Erin O’Toole’s successful 2020 bid to lead the Conservative Party, will be the Tories’ campaign chair. Jennifer Howard, a former NDP finance minister in Manitoba and chief of staff to the federal New Democrats, is running the NDP campaign.
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