NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks during a post-election news conference in Vancouver, on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks during a post-election news conference in Vancouver, on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Holding the PM’s feet to the fire

Jagmeet Singh does not appear to want to give Trudeau a pass in the minority government

The last minority government of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals ran pretty smoothly until he decided an election was required. There were of course reasons for said smoothness, mainly the COVID-19 pandemic pretty much stealing the spotlight and requiring unprecedented government spending, cooperation and focus.

But now, although the pandemic continues to be very present, governments are switching into recovery mode. And all signs are pointing to a bit more of a bumpy minority ride this time round for Trudeau.

The simple fact of a minority is that another party must support the government.

In simpler times, one would assume that the Liberals support would mainly be bolstered by the NDP.

But given the flurry of press releases coming from that party holding the Liberals feet to the fire on any number of issues, it appears that the support may be hard won this time around.

“Justin Trudeau needs to prove to Canadians that they can trust him: NDP”

“Liberals are out of touch when it comes to affordable housing: NDP”

“Justin Trudeau turns his back on Canadians who need help (again) : NDP”

“Legal report shows Liberal government denying residential school survivors justice: NDP”

“NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wants concrete action on Liberal promises”

“Jagmeet Singh calls for bolder action on the fight against climate change”

These are just some of the press releases of the last few weeks, and they are hardly indicative of a party just dying to cooperate with a minority government.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party has been much more silent, dealing as they are with their own election review, and trying to avoid stepping on their own feet over vaccine mandates in the House. Spoiler alert: not doing real well on the latter.

But the NDP, in their onslaught of press releases are letting Trudeau and the Liberals know where they stand, and where they might draw the line.

Singh and the NDP want pandemic aid to Canadians to continue, they want real action — not just talk — on climate change, and they want meaningful work on reconciliation.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, want the free for all spending on pandemic relief to end. They want to start digging out of the deficit.

Noble goals on both parties behalf, if diametrically opposite.

Trudeau and the Liberals are likely to skate by for a time. Given how angrily Canadian citizens reacted to the snap election, it seems unlikely any one party wants to get the blame for bringing the government down.

But if the Liberal minority is to survive the coming Throne Speech and then, in the winter, the budget, deals are going to have to be made. Strange alliances may form.

The makeup of the House right now has the Liberals with 159 seats, the Conservatives with 119, the Bloc Quebecois with 32, the NDP with 25, the Green’s 2 and one Independent.

So the Conservatives can’t ally briefly with the Bloc, that’s only 151 seats. They’d need the NDP on board as well. Which seems a rather unlikely scenario. It will take a fairly united opposition to win a confidence motion, and that could create some very strange bedfellows.

In any event, hope Prime Minister Trudeau has some sturdy boots because his feet are going to be held to the fire.