Residents of Ontario’s Peel region, hard-hit by coronavirus, express muted interest in upcoming federal vote.

Brampton, Ontario, Canada – After Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap election last month, he defended the decision to hold a vote during the coronavirus pandemic by saying Canadians needed to choose “how we finish the fight against COVID-19”.

But in Ontario’s Peel region – a sprawling area west of Toronto that is home to 1.5 million people and was one of the parts of the country hardest-hit by the virus – the electorate has shown little enthusiasm for going out to vote.

 “I think it was a really dumb idea,” Brampton resident Pam Bates told newsmen before Election Day on September 20.

The 55-year-old, who is on disability, said her eye surgery had been delayed several times since the pandemic began as local hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. She added that she fears election-related events could contribute to coronavirus infections.

“I can’t find any reason on the news why he (Trudeau) needs to seek another mandate right now. Does he think people have lost faith in him?” she said, adding that she does not plan to cast a ballot. “I don’t trust any one of them to do what’s needed.”

According to recent polls, calling an election two years early may end up backfiring for Trudeau, as his Liberal Party faces a tough challenge from the Conservatives, headed by Erin O’Toole. The two parties, which have dominated Canadian federal politics for decades, are in a neck-and-neck race.

Trudeau triggered the vote in hopes that his government’s ability to successfully inoculate a majority of Canadians against COVID-19 and provide economic stimulus measures and other employment supports would give the Liberals a parliamentary majority.

But despite Canada boasting one of the highest vaccination rates in the world per capita, with more than 78 percent of eligible people fully vaccinated to date, many Canadians appear frustrated by having to go vote.