NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is no fan of Justin Trudeau. He’s called him an “abject failure” who has “made things worse, not better.” During the election, when asked about a coalition with the Liberals, the NDP leader said, “that is a firm no for me.” And when the Liberals introduced the Emergencies Act to remove a peaceful protest, Jagmeet Singh called it a “failure of leadership.” When Trudeau was engulfed in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, Singh tweeted:
“It’s even more clear now that Justin Trudeau is more interested in helping his wealthy and well-connected friends, at the expense of Canadians. People expect government to actually work for us, instead of serving the interests of the rich & powerful.”
So you can imagine everyone’s surprise when Singh’s NDP struck a deal with the Liberals to keep Trudeau in power until at least 2025. The gist of Singh’s gambit is this: when a confidence motion comes before the House (and with this government that happens more often than not), the NDP has promised to always vote yes.
Normally under such conditions, the NDP would be rewarded some cabinet positions. It would be a true coalition government, like the one the Opposition tried to form in 2008 because Stephen Harper wasn’t interested in deficit spending and bailing out failing businesses.
But there are no cabinet positions here. Instead, Singh signed away his party’s autonomy for:
10 days of sick paid leave for federal bureaucrats.
An “anti-scab” law that prevents federally regulated industries from hiring replacements for striking workers (sidebar: if people are willing to do your job for less than you currently earn, you’re earning an above-market wage).
And a new dental care and pharmacare program because obviously, the government’s other health care priorities have been wildly successful.
NDP vs. Liberals – What’s the Difference?
Canadians in the political centre and right already couldn’t tell the difference between Justin’s far-left Liberal Party and Singh’s NDP. Singh’s gambit is the nail of the coffin. And a coffin it is. By 2025 Justin Trudeau will have spent 10 years in power. He is in his third term as PM. His approval ratings are at record lows. And now Singh has attached his signature to the circus. This move may sink the NDP brand among the younger, idealistic voters who aren’t necessarily defined by the traditional “left vs right.”
This is the general view of Singh’s predecessor, the centre-left Tom Mulcair. In an article for CTV, he called the move a “coup” and said it essentially proved the Conservative case that, “the Liberals have gone hard left and cannot be trusted.”
Of course, it isn’t a coalition. A coalition usually implies some cabinet positions. To which Singh has none. Singh insists that this is a “Supply and Confidence Agreement.”
In that case, someone better let Singh know about this Nigerian Prince who recently lost his royalty status but still has $50+ million in a bank account he needs help accessing. Because I’m assuming that how’s gullible Jagmeet Singh is. (Remember, this is the same leader of the “worker’s party” who wouldn’t even support a legitimate blue-collar rebellion in Ottawa last month).
Justin Trudeau has his majority government now.
The NDP is now the orange wing of the Liberal government… But, isn’t that what minority governments are about? Aren’t these coalitions legitimate and completely legal under the Westminster system?
And the answer is yes. But from a practical, long-term perspective?
In 2017, British Columbia‘s provincial election was a toss-up between the governing Liberals and John Horgan’s NDP. With the support of a couple of Green Party seats, Horgan’s NDP formed a minority government. Three years later, the NDP broke the agreement and called an election just the Greens had elected a new leader. Horgan got his majority and the B.C. Greens are once again irrelevant.
The B.C. Green Party had a lot of leverage for those three years. During those years the provincial government worked out its cannabis regulations. The Greens could have demanded far more than the NDP were willing to deliver. They could have demanded an entire overhaul of the process. They could have demanded more autonomy from Ottawa. They could have remade the energy sector, moving us away from fossil fuels to hemp biofuels. They could have transitioned the lumber industry to hemp production.
But instead, they voted with the government like obedient lapdogs. And then, when it was no longer convenient, they were cast out in the cold.
Is this the legacy Jagmeet Singh wants for his NDP?
It sure looks like it. For here is another opportunity for a left-wing party to differentiate itself from the ruling left-wing party. And what better case can be made for hemp biofuels? Justin Trudeau talks about a clean environment, but as Singh tweeted, Justin only serves the “interests of the rich & powerful.”
Singh, on the other hand, can market himself as the true environmentalist with a genuine plan. With enough propaganda, you can even get Alberta and the other western provinces on board. There is plenty of farmland out there. Instead of growing corn and wheat for processed foods making us unhealthy and causing a strain on the already strained health care system – why not grow hemp so we can actually do something productive for the next generation?
What Happened, Singh?
After all, as Singh once said in an interview: “I’m afraid of Justin Trudeau — and his inaction. I’m afraid he’s going to let our kids have no hope for the future.”
Well, Singh, you had your opportunity. And you blew it. Time will tell, but if the last ten years are of any indication, attaching the NDP brand to Trudeau’s leftism this late in the game is like coming out with “Ayds” candy in the 1980s.
The result will likely be an overwhelming Conservative majority in 2025, with (hopefully) Pierre Poilievre at the helm. And an NDP so irrelevant that talks of a merger with the Liberals to prevent a split in the left-wing vote will become more mainstream.