'Coalition' isn't a dirty word: Singh
OTTAWA –NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Thursday deflected questions about whether he’d formally join forces with his rivals on the left in the event of a minority government, but said people shouldn’t be afraid of the notion of a coalition.
Speaking to a crowd of supporters at a local diner in Welland, Ont. Thursday morning, Singh reflected on some of Canada’s past political achievements, that he said were made possible because progressives worked together.
"If you look around and think about the things that we’re proud of as Canadians, the things that make us proud of the fact that we take care of one another, our universal health care system, that came in because Tommy Douglas, New Democrats and progressives pushed for it," he said.
Asked about how working together would look post-election, and whether that would involve an alliance of parties, Singh said "he’s not bogged down on the details."
Last weekend, the NDP leader said he would "absolutely" form a coalition with other governments. But he has since shifted focus away from those statements and the implication that establishing a coalition is synonymous with support in a minority government scenario, which it isn’t.
Singh was also asked to respond to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s comments on Wednesday in an interview with CTV News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, where he said he’d look to form a government if his party wins the most seats, but not a majority of seats, on election night.
Doing so would go against parliamentary convention that states the incumbent party has the first right to form government, even if they don’t win the most seats. They can overturn a loss by earning support from other parties.
Singh didn’t answer directly but instead doubled down on his view that under no circumstance would his party support the Conservatives.
"We don’t respect Conservatives," he said."We’re going to always fight Conservatives because we don’t believe in their cuts to services, we don’t believe in how they could harm people. We’re going to fight them."
However, in an interview with LaFlamme on Thursday, Singh would not say definitively whether he would trigger another election if the Conservatives formed a minority government and tried to repeal the Liberals’ carbon tax, as Scheer has vowed to do.
Singh called it “too much of a hypothetical” situation.
“I'm saying that if New Democrats are elected, we're going to fight for the things that Canadians need,” Singh later added. “Whatever that means, we're going to look at every scenario as it comes up and say, ‘How does this advance the lives of Canadians with the priorities that we put forward? Does it help us build more housing? Does it help us build a better health care system? Does it help us tackle affordability? Does it help us tackle the climate crisis?’ Those are our values, and we're going to do everything we can to advance those things that Canadians need.”
At the Welland, Ont., event, Singh also addressed the age-old issue of electoral reform, which he said has been left unresolved thanks to the Liberals.
"We were promised by Mr. Trudeau that this would change. He said we would end first-past-the-post systems because it’s so unfair, and be broke that promise," said Singh.
He remained steadfast on his vow to scrap the current electoral structure, and implement proportional representation. This, he said, would allow the “sixty per cent” of Canadians who don’t vote Conservative, to feel their "vote counts."
"It’s wrong for the Conservatives to think that with less than 40 per cent of power or vote, they deserve all the majority of power."