Coming up next Monday is the big federal by-election in Burnaby South, in which NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will attempt to finally gain a seat in the House of Commons.
That Singh has not tried to gain a seat since he was elected Party leader in October 2017 is a strategy that many have questioned. He thought at first he could be more effective outside the House. That has not proven true.
Singh may not be the legislator that his predecessor Thomas Mulcair was, but still, any face time is good for a politician and he could have had plenty while standing to speak in the House.
Singh is projecting an air of confidence heading into the by-election, saying he will be leading the party into the fall election.
We’ll see. You know who might be hoping Singh wins the by-election? The federal Liberals.
Stay with me here, there may be a deeper game afoot. First of all, the Liberals have had to change candidates during this campaign, as their first candidate Karen Wang had to resign because of questionable racial tactics. They are now running former BC Liberal MLA Richard Lee.
But here’s the thing, do the Liberals actually want to win? Well, yes, nobody wants to lose an election, but… say Singh loses.
His future with the NDP will be very much in doubt. The knives may come out and they may come out immediately.
You can’t dump a leader and find someone new right before an election you say? Tell that to the Ontario Conservatives and Doug Ford. Working on a much tighter timeline than the current one, the Conservatives dumped their leader and put in Ford, who swept to victory anyway — greatly aided by the historically unpopular Kathleen Wynne — but nonetheless, they accomplished it.
So it can be done.
The NDP’s complete disarray only helps the Liberals. So if Singh loses and the NDP gets it together quickly and finds someone else to lead them, that doesn’t improve the Liberals chances this fall. If he wins, he will lead his party next fall.
And of course, the Liberals have other problems as well, as the SNC-Lavalin scandal continues to dominate headlines.
This past weekend, the Prime Minister’s secretary and political advisor, Gerald Butts — also known in Ottawa circles as Prime Minister Butts and Trudeau’s brain — resigned.
This was a huge surprise as Trudeau and Butts go back a long way.
Now obviously the Liberals have bungled this SNC-Lavalin affair in every way it could be bungled.
Demoting Jody Wilson-Raybould to a lesser cabinet role just as it was breaking that there was some question as to whether she had been instructed to find a way for the company SNC-Lavalin to avoid prosecution was just plain dumb. She was not happy about the demotion, she quit cabinet, and now she may be resentful and the party can’t control her.
It has not been proven any wrong was done, but communication has been terrible. Why didn’t they come out and say plainly that yes, discussions were held but no one told Wilson-Raybould to do anything. And it is clear that she didn’t act on anything.
Instead the statements were painfully careful. It is a matter of public record that SNC-Lavalin has been lobbying the Liberal government for the past 18 months. That in itself is not illegal.
But why Butts? Yes, someone’s head was going to roll over the entire affair but Butts, who is so very close to the PM? Is there something else there?
It’s clear that questions around SNC-Lavalin are not going away anytime soon. Question is, at this time next week will a loss in a by-election to the NDP be the only thing the Liberals can point to as a positive?