The electoral scare will have been just that: a scare. The House of Commons will ultimately not succumb to the temptation to plunge Canada into an election campaign while the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing. The NDP rallied behind the Liberal government at the last minute, effectively sparing the Liberal government the creation of a committee that could have embarrassed it by putting the UNIS issue back on the agenda. Chief Jagmeet Singh now has to defend himself from being in Justin Trudeau’s payroll.
In a much-anticipated press conference, Singh said “the NDP will not give Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the election he seeks.” “We will not give the Prime Minister an excuse to call an election. “
However, Singh did not say whether his troops would vote later this afternoon against the Conservative motion to create an anti-corruption committee or whether they would abstain from voting. The leader said he is “weighing his options,” but that he will arrange for his move to prevent an election from being called.
The confrontation between the Liberal minority government and the opposition focused on the creation of a parliamentary committee whose mission would have been to study the mandate of half a billion dollars given to the charity UNIS to promote volunteerism. student during the pandemic. The case became controversial this summer because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his then minister Bill Morneau had not recused themselves from the discussions on the matter despite their respective families having benefited from UNIS.
The Liberals argued that the establishment of such a broad-based committee would have meant that Parliament no longer trusted the government. And whoever says loss of confidence in a minority government says election to appoint a new one. The Liberals believed that this committee would have “paralyzed” the state, by being able to first demand the appearance of the Prime Minister and some of his ministers most involved in the management of the health crisis (Health, Finance, Treasury Board, Procurement ), and then the production of thousands of pages of documents, which would have monopolized the public service.
The opposition parties considered this fear to be excessive. The Bloc has indicated that they intend to vote with the Conservatives, but the NDP refused to show their colors until Wednesday.
The NDP was negotiating with the Liberals instead to set up a committee dedicated to studying all expenses made to fight the pandemic and not just those related to student volunteering. These negotiations were unsuccessful, with Liberals and NDP disagreeing on who should be on and chair this committee. “I don’t mind because we have other tools. We will continue to do the work in Parliament, ”said Mr. Singh. So he got nothing from the Liberals in return for his bailout. Singh says he will now try to force witnesses in connection with the UNIS case to appear before existing parliamentary committees.
Mr. Singh has refused to blindly support the government because his party does not have the financial means to launch an election campaign. According to him, it is a question of taking note that “Mr. and Mrs. Everyone” does not want an election as a second wave descends on the two main Canadian provinces.
According to financial data for the first two quarters of 2020 released by Elections Canada, the NDP only raised $ 1.3 million, a few tens of thousands of dollars less than the smaller Green Party, and much less than the Liberals (5.8 million) or the Conservatives (8.4 million).
The Conservative leader did not want to blame his NDP rival for abandoning him. He reserved all of his attacks for Justin Trudeau and his troops. “By making this vote a vote of confidence, Justin Trudeau has shown that he is prepared to put the electoral chances of the Liberal Party first over the health, safety and well-being of Canadians,” he said. Most Canadians would find this unacceptable. Mr. O’Toole said he would try to hold the government to account in existing parliamentary bodies. “We are going to work with the other parties,” he assured.
If the 24 NDP MPs abstain from voting, it would give the three Green MPs and the two independents the balance of power, who usually have no decisive influence on the outcome of votes in the House. In fact, the Liberals have 153 members who can vote, or as much as the Conservatives and the Bloc combined. This scenario appears unlikely because behind the scenes, there are fears that some Liberals will be absent from the vote in order to lose it. Many agree that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals want a fall poll because they believe the crisis favors the outgoing government and their new Tory rival, Erin O’Toole, is not yet known.
With Marie Vastel