OPINION: Only Jagmeet Singh Can Save Us From a Mid-Pandemic Election

By Uzodinma Ukagwu

The WE Charity scandal has chugged along like the quintessential Trudeau scandal; drip, drip, drip. 

Along with it, Bill Morneau has resigned as minister of finance. He is the designated offering thrown from the ship to appease the sea gods. But alas, the waters are not calm and a showdown is set for September 23 when Justin Trudeau’s prorogation ends and parliament returns.

Will the government fall in the confidence vote on September 23 after Trudeau lays out his supposedly ambitious agenda during his throne speech? Only Jagmeet Singh and the New Democratic Party can decide that. It is pretty clear by now that no other party is inclined to save this Liberal government.

The Conservatives have made it clear that they do not like the direction that the Liberals have been leading the country, especially pertaining to fiscal and economic matters. Outgoing leader, Andrew Scheer, famously said in his concession speech on election night last year that when the “government falls, conservatives will be ready.”

The Conservatives may like Trudeau’s new economic plan even less with all the possible deficits it would entail. With their new leader, Erin O’Toole, in place by September 23, and the Trudeau government falling in the polls because of the WE Charity scandal, the Conservatives will have little to no qualms about a new election.

“Frantic negotiations between the Liberals and the NDP will begin at some point before September 23.”

The Bloc Québécois have also been very bullish and insistent in calling for Trudeau to resign over the scandal and are unlikely to turn around and support a Trudeau-led government in a confidence vote. In my opinion, the Bloc’s goal has never been to form a government but to secure as many seats in Quebec as possible. They reckon that with this scandal weakening the Liberals, they can do even better than their solid performance in the last election.

Ruling out the Conservatives and the Bloc leaves only the New Democratic Party (NDP) as a potential voting and governing partner for the Liberals. In this past year since the last election, and in this minority government situation, Singh and the NDP have already proven to be the Liberals’ most willing collaborators. When the Liberals continued the suspension of regular parliament in May due to COVID-19, it was the NDP’s support that made it possible, over the objection of all other parties except the Green’s. All the NDP asked for in exchange, was for the government to commit to work with the provinces to develop a universal sick leave plan for Canadians.

It is also in the NDP’s interest to work with the Liberals to stave off an election because their election prospects do not look great either. The NDP lost 20 seats in the last election, dropping down to become the fourth largest caucus in parliament with 24 seats. They are still paying off their debt from the last election, but have voiced that they would be ready for an effective election campaign.

Frantic negotiations between the Liberals and the NDP will begin at some point before September 23 on how the NDP would like the economic plan to look. 

The only wild card will be what penance Singh will demand from the Liberals to atone for the WE scandal, and if the Liberals will be willing to pay it.

Copyright© 2020 by Uzodinma Ukagwu

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