Singh downplays prospect of a coalition, saying 'vote for a New Democrat'
TORONTO -- NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh appeared to be walking back his comments on Monday, a day after he said he would “absolutely” work with the other parties to form a coalition government in the event of the Conservatives winning a minority next week.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday in Surrey, B.C., Singh said he would do “whatever it takes” to avoid a Conservative government, including working with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau if the Conservatives win.
"We're not going to support a Conservative government," Singh said on Sunday. "We're going to fight a Conservative government, we're going to fight it all the way.”
On Monday, Singh backed off those comments and urged Canadians to vote NDP in order to receive the best services.
“It’s not a question of coalition, it’s a question of our priorities,” Singh told reporters in French. “What I say for all Canadians is if you want to have someone who is working for you for climate change, it’s the New Democrats, if you vote for us, we’re going to fight for you.”
A spokesperson for the NDP clarified Singh’s stance later Monday, noting that he is running to be prime minister and a coalition government is just one of the options he would accept to ensure the Conservatives are not in power.
“Jagmeet will work with people who are willing to take the same priorities as his. As PM, as opposition, in coalition, in a minority agreement, in vote to vote,” said spokesperson Melanie Richer in an email.
While Trudeau has been pushing the idea that a vote for the Liberals is the only way to avoid Conservatives, Singh made it clear he hopes Canadians know there are more options.
“I reject that analysis,” he said. “Vote for a New Democrat, wherever you are, vote for a New Democrat. They’re going to make sure that your priorities are put front and centre. We can win and we can make sure that your life is better.”
Singh would not respond to whether he’d require any NDP MPs to sit in cabinet under a coalition, but has previously said he would require climate change action, national pharmacare, interest-free student loans, cuts to cell phone plans, affordable housing investments and additional taxes of the wealthiest Canadians to support any party’s minority government.
When asked about the prospect of forming a coalition with the NDP, Trudeau dodged the question and suggested the NDP would rip up the new NAFTA deal under this proposal.
Singh called that claim a “lie” and added his party would only require some of the trade protections in the agreement to be enforceable as a way of protecting Canadian workers.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters on Monday that a coalition with the Liberals and NDP would “lead to higher taxes, less jobs, more deficits and bigger household bills.”
“It’s the coalition Canadians can’t afford,” he said. “Only a Conservative majority government can prevent a government with Justin Trudeau as a spokesman, but the NDP calling the shots.”
Singh said the Conservatives will not fight for every day Canadians and are instead focused on offering tax breaks for the richest people in the country.
“With Conservatives what you get are folks that are going to offer you a couple dollars in your pocket, but what they’re really going to do is cost you more in the long run,” Singh said.
“That’s not what Canadians need right now. They need investments in housing, they need someone who’s going to take on the big cell phone companies and make sure that cell phone and internet prices are more affordable. That’s what you get when you vote New Democrat.”
According to the latest polling from Nanos research, the Liberals and Conservatives are deadlocked with around 32 per cent support with just a week to go before the election. The NDP sit comfortably in third with 19.2 per cent support.