Jagmeet Singh and the Federal NDP struck a deal with Justin Trudeau’s Minority Liberal Government to support them electorally when it comes to confidence motions until 2025, giving the Libs a defacto Majority Government. In exchange, the NDP (and Canadians) get dental care gradually implemented until everyone earning less than $70 000 a year is covered by 2025, a Canada Pharmacare Act passed by the end of 2023 and other New Democrat priorities that, until now, the Libs have only given lip service to, actually worked on.

This is exactly how minority parliaments can produce good results. It’s also another smart political move on the part of Singh and a surprisingly cautious one on the part of Trudeau. Or, as some commenters have put it, a tyrannical power grab.

Allow me to address the last group first: I won’t bother explaining how parliamentary democracy works or even go beyond seat counts and mention that in 2021, the total combined vote percentage for the Liberals and NDP was 50.44%, compared to 48.65% if you add up the percentages the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois, the People’s Party and (why not) the Green Party got. You won’t think anything but what you want happening is legit.

I will, though, ask you what’s worse: a defacto Trudeau Majority until 2025 with free dental or a proper Trudeau Majority until 2027 with nothing but what the Liberals want? Because the latter is exactly what we would get if there was an election next year with Pierre Poilievre leading the Conservative Party (CPC).

A right-wing CPC Leader might please the party base, neutralize the People’s Party and win a handful of seats in the Prairies, but even tacit association with or presumed endorsement of the unrest in Ottawa would destroy the party’s chances in the 905 and 519 area codes, the riding-rich areas surrounding Toronto, where federal elections are generally decided in Canada. Also, Poilievre’s flirtation with hard social conservatives would cause some progressive-minded voters to not risk voting NDP and select the Libs out of fear.

So, the question I have for fellow progressives and NDP supporters who may be less than thrilled at the prospect of the New Democrats propping up Trudeau is a slightly altered one (I already assume you understand how parliamentary democracy works): Would you prefer supporting three years of Liberal rule with key NDP policies being enacted or Liberal rule until at least 2027 with no concessions and a weakened New Democrat caucus?

Some opposition members have also dubbed this a “power grab” by Trudeau. They’re wrong, of course. If this is a power grab by anyone, it’s by Singh on behalf of those who support NDP policy.

The “on behalf of” part is crucial. This isn’t a formal Coalition Government. Don’t expect NDP MPs to occupy cabinet posts. It’s the policies that have power, policies that when implemented Trudeau may very well get credit for.

Yes, that’s a risk, but it’s a calculated one and a worthwhile one to take. Singh is getting things done and doing an excellent job as an opposition leader. While he won’t get the full credit if and when these plans are implemented, he is showing the power of voting NDP and giving New Democrats a larger voice.

Sure, these wins aren’t perfect (I, for one, would have preferred immediate coverage of all dental for everyone under the Canada Health Act) and they aren’t confirmed wins yet. Quebec Premier François Legault has already promised to challenge dental care and pharmacare on provincial jurisdictional grounds and says other premiers such as Doug Ford will do the same (Let’s make “Legault wants me to have a toothache” an election year slogan, shall we?).

Regardless of the outcome, though, it is a great step forward for Singh and the NDP. I am surprised why Trudeau jumped on, though. He could have waited a year and got the majority he was setting himself up for.

Maybe he thought that Poilievre wouldn’t win the CPC nom after all (Jean Charest is polling well) so he decided to play it safe. Maybe he thought that he could get some popular policies through and use the NDP deal as political cover for his corporate donors who may not like some of them.

Or maybe, for Trudeau and Singh, this is about exactly what they said it was: stability.

Regardless, I’m really starting to like the possibilities minority parliaments have to offer.

So Jean Charest is running to be leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Yes, THAT Jean Charest. The former Quebec Premier and Maple Spring antagonist who lost power after over a decade because people took to the streets en masse after he refused to budge an inch.

I have three thoughts on this completely expected announcement last week (the fact that he caught COVID and is campaigning from home was a bit of a surprise, but doesn’t change my thoughts on him) :

1. I despise Jean Charest

He is the living embodiment of bourgeois arrogance and austerity for everyone but the rich. Charest was kicked “dehors” but wasn’t someone supposed to find him “un job dans le Nord”? I guess that didn’t work out and instead we have the most undeserving and undesirable of political comebacks.

Maybe he feels that others in Quebec may remember his political exit in 2012 more than anything else, which could be why he chose to launch his campaign in Alberta. That or a desire to appeal to the party base. Either way, typica crafty, slimy Charest.

2. He’s the Conservatives’ Best Chance of Actually Winning

Sadly, it’s true. The first time he ran for Conservative leadership (it was the PC party then, not the CPC), Charest lost his bid but was one of only two MPs to keep their seat when Jean Chretien wiped the Kim Campbell-led party off the political map.

Unless Quebec decides to collectively do something unexpected (which they do every few decades or so), federal elections in Canada are decided by hockey moms and dads in the 905 and 519. Charest can play to that crowd, a right-winger cannot.

And Charest is the one with name recognition. Sure, in Quebec it’s complicated, but that’s not the case everywhere else, like in Calgary where he announced his candidacy.

3. He Won’t Win the Nomination

Pierre Poilievre will most likely get the nomination. He’s Justin Trudeau’s dream opponent. Getting the CPC base to replace Erin O’Toole with a far right winger was part of his reasoning when he called the last election.

Canada is a center-left country and Trudeau knows it. Neo-Cons like Charest or right-wingers in centrist clothing like Harper can win here. Right wingers like Poilievre only appeal to the base which can maybe swing a few ridings and are thinly spread out across the rest. Just ask Maxime Bernier (or maybe don’t, that guy doesn’t need any more attention).

So it may be a little premature to dust off those old anti-Charest posters, but then again, who knows.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

Jason C. McLean and Special Guests Dawn McSweeney and Jerry Gabriel start with Quebec’s second curfew which begins on New Year’s Eve and then talk about some of the top news stories of 2021.

Follow Dawn McSweeney on Twitter and Instagram @mcmoxy

Follow Jerry Gabriel on Twitter (@depressingbear) and Instagram (@jerrygabrielrocks)

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter and Instagram @jasoncmclean

Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Dawn McSweeney go through some of the week’s top news, roundup-style.

Topics:

The US leaving Afghanistan
The 2021 Canadian Federal Election
OnlyFans dropping explicit content
Forced sterilization of Native women in Saskatchewan
Gatineau boy’s father denied human rights complaint

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

It’s official. After a quick 36 day campaign, Canadians will head to the polls on September 20th. This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Governor General Mary Simon to dissolve the current Minority Parliament in place since October 2019, which she did.

As Trudeau seeks a Majority, his Government’s handling of the pandemic will most likely play a dominant role in the five week campaign. The current pandemic situation will also directly effect the election itself, with all poll workers masked, a fresh pencil for each voter, hourly cleaning and some provinces not allowing schools to be used as polling places. Whether or not voters themselves will have to mask up depends on the current provincial health rules in place where they live.

While Trudeau had hoped to pass legislation allowing for three days of voting, it came off the table when Parliament was dissolved. Voting will be limited to election day, advanced polling days and mail-in ballots, which Elections Canada expects a significantly larger than average number of.

Trudeau argued that this election is necessary to give voters a say in the COVID recovery: “In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want their chance to help decide where our country goes from here?”

While the opposition parties all say they are ready, they are also critical of the decision to call the election. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called it a “selfish” election and argued that Trudeau is calling it “to be able to do less, not more” for Canadians in need, referring to the fact that his party was able to push the Minority Government for more in the COVID support benefits like the CERB and CRB.

All parties now have the shortest amount of time allowed by law to make their case.

Featured Image by Coolcaesar via WikiMedia Commons

Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Samantha Gold discuss the upcoming Montreal Municipal election (with an emphasis on the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Montreal Nord boroughs), the possibility of a fall Federal Election and Quebec’s new vaccine passport.

Follow Samantha Gold on Facebook @samiamart and Instagram @samiamartistmtl

See Samantha’s mural outside of the Union United Church

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter and Instagram @jasoncmclean

Activist Sam Hersh joins Jason C. McLean to talk about the NDP’s Palestine Resolution, which he and a group of Palestinian and Jewish activists helped pass with 80% support at last weekend’s convention and the ensuing reaction from NDP leadership and others.

Follow Sam Hersh on Twitter @SamHersh01

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean