Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to set the stage for a fall election, even though he pleaded publicly that the government has “no interest” in such a scenario. But if the government really had no interest in an election, the case should be closed.
Instead, Justin Trudeau insists that if Canadians are called to the polls in the fall, it will be the fault of the opposition parties. United, the three main opposition parties can indeed decide to bring down the Liberals. But united, they are not. For instance, the Bloc is sniping as hard at the Liberals as against new Conservative leader Erin O’Toole. And O’Toole is trying to cast himself as the workers’ fighter, a role the NDP wants to preserve for itself.
It should be easy for Trudeau to find at least one dancing partner. O’Toole has accused Trudeau of wanting “to rush some fake election” to avoid accountability regarding the WE scandal. “We’ll work with them if it’s for the benefit of Canadian families”, he told the CBC’s Power & Politics. Basically, O’Toole is open to voting confidence in the Trudeau government, despite the WE scandal.
After pledging to bring down the government this fall in the wake of the WE scandal, Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet has been trying to put back some toothpaste in the tube ahead of the Throne Speech, in order to have some room to manoeuvre.
Meanwhile, the NDP still has not overcome its financial and organisational difficulties. Singh is probably not keen on an election, but what can he do if the Liberals won’t have a dialogue to ensure the throne speech passes? Supporting an ethically challenged government while getting nothing in return could be costly politically for the NDP.
Trudeau says he is willing to listen to proposals from the other parties, but he has not reached out. “We are in a minority Parliament, and it is not I who will decide whether there are elections, ” Trudeau argued in Toronto on Wednesday. “We have no interest in an election. It will be up to opposition parties to decide whether or not they have confidence in the plan this government is going to put forward to help Canadians.”
Translation: the Liberal government will bring forward its Speech from the Throne, it will offer the opposition the opportunity to either endorse it – or overthrow the government. No negotiations, no discussions: my way or the highway. In essence, Trudeau is daring the opposition parties to bring him down during a pandemic.
If he really wanted to avoid an election, Trudeau would reach out to the other parties and negotiate about the content of the Throne Speech in order to secure their support. He won’t do that because he feels that the opposition is too weak to stand up to him.
The opposition parties must determine now if Trudeau is bluffing – and if they are ready to call his bluff. If he is bluffing, he’ll fold and give up concessions to at least one of the three parties in order to survive and stay in power. If he is not bluffing, Trudeau is gambling the future of his minority government. The last Liberal Prime Minister to do that was Paul Martin. It didn’t pay off.
Photo Credit: National Post
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