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Prime Minister calls September election

Foothills MP John Barlow and his campaign team have election signs ready to go.

Fort Macleod residents and other Canadians go to the polls Sept. 20 to elect a new government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday asked the governor general to dissolve parliament and set the election for next month.

“I think this is really a question of the prime minister’s ego,” Conservative MP for Foothills John Barlow said. “He wants a majority government. He thinks he can get it.”

It was just two years ago that Canada elected a Liberal minority government with 157 seats in the House of Commons.

Barlow’s Conservative Party earned 121 seats, the Bloc Quebecois elected 32 MPs, the NDP elected 24, the Green Party elected three and one independent MP was elected.

“Speaking to my constituents over the last several months it is not at top of mind,” Barlow said. “There’s certainly a lot of Foothills residents upset with the current government but I don’t see there’s a big demand for an election right now.”

The federal election will take place just one month prior to the Alberta municipal election.

As voters choose new town and municipal councils as well as school board trustees on Oct. 18, they will also elect new Senate candidates and answer a referendum question on Alberta’s place in confederation.

“I think it’s going to be a little bit confusing,” Barlow said of the burden being placed on voters in Alberta.

Barlow said the timing is also poor for a federal election for other reasons.

Foothills MP John Barlow opened his campaign headquarters Friday in High River.

“We’ve had a disasterous drought,” Barlow said. “My farmers are in the field trying to harvest what they can. Ranchers are frantically trying to find feed.”

“My constituents have their minds on more important things right now. People are trying to get their kids ready to go to school. People are trying to get their businesses up and running. There’s a lot more important priorities for people right now and I can completely understand that.”

Barlow said candidates will have their work cut out for them to get the attention of voters leading up to the election.

The government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the relief programs will be a key election issue.

Barlow said the country’s financial position — a debt totalling more than $1-trillion — will also be at top of mind.

“It’s not something I thought I would have seen in my lifetime,” Barlow said of the mounting national debt. “Over the last years this prime minister has added more debt to Canada’s deficit than every prime minister in our history combined. That’s a fact.”

Barlow noted Trudeau’s government has been wracked by scandals.

“The facts are what they are,” Barlow said.

The campaign will determine whether Trudeau and the Liberals can gain enough support to elect a majority government.

“A lot can change in an election,” Barlow said. “I think it comes down to voter engagement. If people aren’t paying attention and there is a low voter turnout, anything can possibly happen.”

“I think a lot of it comes down to: are Canadians paying attention? Are they going to go out to the polls? I really think it’s unpredictable right now.”

Barlow and Jay Hill of the Maverick Party are the only declared candidates in Foothills at present.

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