JIM FURLONG | Let’s Make a Deal

*Column from our April 3-9 issue

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh have come up with a deal that will keep the Liberals in power until 2025. It’s not a political coalition but rather an announcement of “supply and confidence”. 

In a word, the NDP will support the government and its programs and in return they will get some of its own political agenda moved forward. 

Sure sounds like a coalition to me, except there will be no seats at the cabinet table for the New Democrats. 

The NDP programs that would find favour under the arrangement would include PharmaCare and some form of dental care program. Both are important to the New Democrats, and they are going to get them, or a form of them without winning an election. 

The agreement meant for a tough day for the Conservative Party. Having just kicked out their leader, the Conservatives are trying to “find” themselves.   

Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen said bravely on Tuesday morning: “This is not a good day for Canadians.”  It was not a good day for Conservatives. The last thing the Conservatives needed was for the Liberals and the NDP to come together and start singing from the same hymn book.

‘Dances with truckers’

The prospect of the Liberals, which is the party of the centre-left and the NDP which is the party of the further left getting together is hard on the Conservatives because it comes at a time when the party is getting ready for a difficult leadership race.

Its base is on the right wing and that has cost them. Apart from its sitting members, that base is not the centrist party that Canadians seem to prefer. This time out they at least have Jean Charest in their leadership race with the prospect he could attract Liberal votes if he won. Charest has been a Liberal and a Conservative and a former premier with ALL the credentials. He also does not share the “dances with truckers” label as many in his party now wear because of the Parliament Hill protest. 

Whoever wins for the Conservatives will have to find their territory and it will not be easy. They must decide who they are and then sell that to the public. 

With Liberals and the NDP now hanging out together it may be difficult to pursue a real conservative agenda and find running room for it. 

A sobering thought for Newfoundland and Labrador is the impact of the new Liberal/NDP working arrangement on the idea of getting approval for the much-needed Bay du Nord project off-shore. It was hard enough with the federal cabinet divided over whether to give the green light. Now with the NDP on board with the Liberals it has just got a lot tougher. These are interesting times.    

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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