Trudeau trades up his position on the back of the NDP


Justin Trudeau really wanted this election.  Despite the Liberals talking points, it is obvious that by declaring the Conservative motion to create a special committee to look deeper into the WE scandal a question of confidence, Justin Trudeau was more than prepared to go to the polls.  Worst case scenario, one of the opposition parties was going to blink, namely the NDP.

Because if Trudeau actually really, really didn’t want an election, this motion would not have been a matter of confidence.  But he was confident enough to take the risk and gamble his current position to trade up.

In the current political context, and after seeing the Higgs minority government in New Brunswick go to the voters and get their majority, and after seeing the Horgan minority government in British-Columbia on its way to do the same, New Democrats decided they could not let Trudeau have the election that he wants in order to replicate the electoral successes we’ve seen from incumbents so far in this pandemic.

Of course, if a government doesn’t want to fall, negotiations with an opposition party start in earnest.  Word from New Democrat officials is that the Liberals were not interested in negotiating much.  The choice for the NDP, therefore, was to either vote with the CPC and Bloc and trigger the election Trudeau wanted, or fold and get nothing in return.

Essentially, the NDP decided it was better to vote against Trudeau’s bid for an election by voting with Trudeau against the CPC motion.  Do you follow?  It’ll be a tough sell.

Jagmeet Singh has been using hard words against Trudeau, accusing him of being irresponsible.  Calling an election during a pandemic, while people are worried about their health, their jobs, their kids’ education, all because he wants to cover up his tracks in the WE scandal, is, by Singh’s account the height of self-centred irresponsibility. 

Unfortunately for the NDP, the price Trudeau will pay for wanting an election and not getting it will be smaller than the price the NDP will pay for propping them up and being seen as helping them cover things up.  Certainly, Conservatives and Bloquistes will not shy away from quickly turning their fire towards the New Democrats – despite the fact that CPC Leader Erin O’Toole himself said he didn’t want an election.

For Trudeau, it was a win-win scenario.  Either he had the election he wanted.  Or he forced the NDP to prop him up while giving up nothing.  In both cases, the special committee to scrutinize possible misspending and ethical lapses during the delivery of federal aid programs was never going to see the light of day.

How long can the NDP afford to keep Trudeau in power before paying a price that is too heavy?  One only needs to recall the fate of Michael Ignatieff, who kept talking tough on Stephen Harper only to turn around and keep him in place, time and time and time again, without concessions.  While Jagmeet Singh was able to get changes on the Throne Speech, it was not the case this time.  Politically, that is a better template for Trudeau to follow for the remainder of 2020.

Photo Credit: CBC News

More from Karl Bélanger.    Follow Karl Bélanger on Twitter at @KarlBelanger.

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