Green Leader Elizabeth May calls talk of a coalition government 'premature'
QUALICUM BEACH, B.C. -- While the idea of a coalition government in Canada has taken hold in the final week of the campaign, Green Leader Elizabeth May said on Thursday such talk is "premature" until after the Oct. 21 election.
Speaking at a campaign stop on Vancouver Island, May said parties can plan to work together before ballots are cast in countries with a proportional representation electoral system, but such talk is "meaningless" in Canada's first-past-the-post system.
Polls suggest a strong possibility of a minority Liberal or Conservative government emerging from Monday's vote.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said over the weekend that he would consider entering into a coalition with Justin Trudeau's Liberals, though he has recently appeared cooler on the idea. Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has been stoking fears about a Liberal-NDP coalition that will raise taxes and increase spending as he pushes for a majority government.
Scheer has said if he wins the most seats in Monday's election, even if not a majority, that would give him a mandate to govern, but that is not necessarily the case: Canada's parliamentary system allows for any combination of parties to support a government that can win confidence votes in the House of Commons.
"Mr. Scheer is wrong in saying he's got a new way that Parliament works in a minority, Mr. Singh is wrong saying he'll only work with the Liberals. We are in a Westminster Parliamentary democratic system," May said. "We are not in a presidential system such as in the United States. We wait until the election is over."
May noted that the conversation might be different had Trudeau kept one of his 2015 campaign promises. Trudeau ran on a platform that included electoral reform, but dropped the idea shortly into his mandate.
"I think we all remember that 2015 was, according to Justin Trudeau, the last election under first-past-the-post," May said. "Somehow we're still operating under first-past-the-post."
May said the Greens are prepared to work within whatever configuration of parties Canada finds itself with after the election.
"We're, in the old expression, keeping our powder dry," May said. "We're prepared to work with (others), and find ways to make Parliament work for Canadians."
May was campaigning in British Columbia to promote her party's fisheries policy.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2019.