The New Democratic Party is sitting in fourth place after the autumn’s divisive federal election and its chief Jagmeet Singh says he isn’t excited by partnering with the Conservatives to overwhelm Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority.
In a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, Singh acknowledged there might be political expediency in having his New Democrats flip to the Conservatives to both defeat or dominate the Liberals.
But Singh has no plans to go down that highway.
“When it comes to the values that I have and have been pushing for, I don’t see an alignment with the values the Conservatives have pushed forward,” he stated.
The NDP and Liberals discovered themselves in a disagreement throughout the fall election marketing campaign to show which occasion was extra progressive, particularly after the New Democrats misplaced most of the seats they gained within the 2011 “orange wave” to the Liberals in 2015
In basic, a weakened Liberal occasion is nice for each the New Democrats and the Conservatives.
Despite this and regardless of the very fact the NDP typically struggles to distinguish itself from the Liberal occasion in its insurance policies, Singh stated he nonetheless could not think about teaming up with the Conservatives — even below a brand new chief, with Andrew Scheer’s current resignation.
“My goal isn’t to defeat the Liberals. My goal is to push them to do better,” he stated.
Strings connected to help
Singh stated he desires progressive legal guidelines that he believes are priorities for a lot of Canadians, together with to create nationwide packages to cowl drug prices and dental care.
However, Trudeau can be smart to not presume his supply of political assist comes with out strings, Singh stated.
“The frame that I take is — the Liberals need to work with somebody. They have 13 votes that they need in this minority government. So they need to get that support from somewhere. I put it out there that I am willing to be that person that supports them,” Singh stated.
But if the Liberals’ objective is to easily “cruise along” and maintain onto energy, Singh stated he is out.
“My leverage and my encouragement comes from — if you need something passed that’s meaningful, I’m right here. I’m ready to do it. But I’m not going to be taken for granted. I’m not going to support them blindly if it’s not good for people.”
Singh and his New Democratic Party had a roller-coaster of a yr, starting with Singh spending a lot of his time in British Columbia in a bid to win a seat within the House of Commons. He gained his Burnaby South seat in a February byelection, however appearances in query interval and the halls of Parliament didn’t translate into a direct bump for the occasion.
The New Democrats struggled with fundraising after ending 2018 with almost $4.5 million in adverse web belongings — the occasion’s worst steadiness sheet since 2001.
A mass of acknowledged and well-respected NDP MPs retiring dealt additional blows to occasion morale.
The NDP wasn’t in a position to match the Liberals’ and Conservatives’ promoting throughout the marketing campaign, because of its smaller warfare chest, and in addition solely chartered a marketing campaign aircraft for the final 12 days of the race.
Many pundits have been predicting the NDP might lose official occasion standing, thanks to those elements and low polling numbers in the beginning of the marketing campaign.
Losses in beforehand fruitful ridings
However, Singh was in a position to flip his infectious, seemingly bottomless enthusiasm into upward momentum mid-race. Polling numbers began rising, crowds at his rallies began getting greater and the highlight began shining extra positively in Singh’s route.
But the momentum did not translate into sufficient votes to maintain the NDP from shedding seats.
The occasion was lowered to fourth place within the House of Commons behind the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois after successful simply 24 seats, down from the 39 it held earlier than the Oct. 21 vote.
The occasion’s losses have been particularly deep in Quebec, the place it misplaced all however one in every of 16 seats the occasion had held onto in 2015.
Singh attributes this to his being new to the federal scene. This election was his “introduction to Canada” and to Quebec, “where I had the biggest introduction to make,” he stated.
The marketing campaign additionally noticed heated debate amongst federal leaders over Quebec’s controversial legislation banning non secular symbols like hijabs, turbans, kippahs and distinguished crucifixes for some civil servants — a legislation that’s extensively common amongst Quebec voters.
Watch: The NDP chief talks about working with the Liberals
Singh admits the legislation, generally known as Bill 21, might have performed an element in his occasion’s main losses within the province. Singh is a practising Sikh recognized for his brightly colored turbans and he wears a symbolic knife.
“I think it was divisive as a bill and I think divisive bills will encourage or create more division. And that might impact me as someone, on first glance if there is something promoting division, because I look different.”
Many folks face discrimination primarily based on race, gender or nation of origin, Singh stated, and he hopes to be a voice for these folks and present he is prepared to take a stand towards it and to attempt to win over the “hearts and minds” of Quebecers.
Looking to 2020, Singh says he hopes to work with the Liberals to implement a common, single-payer pharmacare program and nationwide dental protection and to see Indigenous communities lastly given entry to scrub ingesting water, housing and equitable child-welfare funding.
He says that although Canada could also be experiencing divisive politics and insurance policies, he believes there’s purpose to hope.
“While we live in a beautiful place, it’s an incredible country. There’s so much more that unites us than divides us and there’s this real, strong belief that people want to take care of their neighbours. And I want to build on that feeling of camaraderie.”