If incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to do anything with the new mandate given to him by Canadians during Monday’s election, he will need to find a dance partner among the opposition parties.
That’s because Trudeau has a plurality of seats, but doesn’t have enough Liberal votes in the House of Commons to pass legislation without securing the support of a handful of opposition members. Trudeau’s liberals faced the exact same situation when they called back the election in August.
“We’re back where we started,” said Nelson Wiseman, professor emeritus in political science at the University of Toronto.
“We got the same results, although it was a draw on the federal treasury — $610 million, and[that]meant a lot of us had to wait in line to vote.”
Before Parliament was dissolved, the parties played the role of kingmakers when various issues came to the fore. Often, it was the NDP that prevented Canadians from going to the polls when issues of trust hit the floor of the House of Commons. The Progressive Party also collaborated with Trudeau to pass legislation on matters such as pandemic benefits.
Grace Skogstad, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said Trudeau will have to find a way to work with other parties – and that the NDP may be his best bet.
“They have to work with other parties. And in some ways, I think some of the items on the Liberal agenda are easier for the NDP to work with,” Skogstad said.
He pointed to issues such as childcare and pharmacare as both sides looking to make progress in those areas.
“He’s got a willing partner there,” she said.
When pressed on whether he would put on his dancing shoes and hold Trudeau’s hand again, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh left the door open on Tuesday – but not without taking a few final peeks.
“Everything I said was true. And so I’m going to stand by it,” Singh said of Trudeau’s criticism throughout the campaign.
“But I’m going to go back and say, you know, you messed up, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t work for Canadians. And I stand by that.”
Robin McLachlan, an NDP strategist, agreed that the NDP would be willing to work with the Liberals on a range of issues – up to a point.
MacLachlan said, “I think (Singh’s) priority now will be …
He added that if there is a “real conciliatory and cooperative approach to this parliament”, he hopes the NDP and the liberals will be able to work together. “But,” said MacLachlan, “they have to.”
MacLachlan said, “This parliament ended because the liberals were, in large part, trying to see that the parliament was not functioning, when in fact the liberals and the NDP had plenty of opportunity to cooperate.”
“So my hope is that the lesson the liberals have learned from this is that Canadians are getting them back to work.”
Even though things don’t quite budge for the Liberals and the NDP to form a perfect parliamentary pairing, Wiseman said the other parties are fully considering the possibility of working with the Liberals to advance mutual interests in the end. No nose held. Parliament.
“I think all three parties have danced with the liberals,” Wiseman said.
“If the NDP moves a no-confidence motion, the conservatives will vote with the liberals because they don’t want elections. And the bloc Québécois has supported the liberals at times. … The parties know it all. And they all have in a way.” Conversed.
While the NDP and liberals may find themselves aligned more often on social policy issues, Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives have also made climate change a bigger priority for the party than in previous iterations of the Tories. According to Skogstad, acceptance of the importance of addressing climate change may be a source of common ground for liberals and conservatives.
“Even Erin O’Toole sees the merits of climate change policy,” she said.
“So I think there are issues on which liberals can work with other parties.”
No matter which party liberals find themselves leaning on while trying to deliver on campaign promises, Skogstad said the broader message of voters is clear: “Make it work.”
“That’s what Canadians are saying,” she said.
“We want you to go to work and really address these serious problems.”