Party lead­ers ar­gue over how Canada will be gov­erned //

Con­ser­va­tives, Lib­er­als still dead­locked in polls, lead­ers talk coali­tions

The Peterborough Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE BLANCH­FIELD

OT­TAWA — Four days be­fore Cana­di­ans go to the polls, the lead­ers of Canada’s three largest fed­eral par­ties ar­gued over how the coun­try will be gov­erned if there is no clear win­ner on elec­tion day.

Most polls con­tinue to sug­gest the Lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives are dead­locked, rais­ing talk about po­ten­tial mi­nor­ity or coali­tion gov­ern­ments as sup­port also grows for the NDP and the Bloc Québé­cois in Que­bec.

Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer said if he wins the most seats in Mon­day’s elec­tion, that would give him a man­date to gov­ern.

He re­peated that view dur­ing a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion with re­porters in Bramp­ton on Thurs­day, dis­miss­ing re­minders that as a for­mer Speaker of the House of Com­mons, he has fa­mil­iar­ity with the rules that gov­ern Par­lia­ment and say oth­er­wise.

“We are ask­ing Cana­di­ans for a strong Con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity man­date,” Scheer said be­fore head­ing to Nova Sco­tia for a rally in Pic­tou County. “It is the case that the party that wins the most seats in modern Cana­dian his­tory has been the party that forms the gov­ern­ment.”

Paul Mar­tin did step down as prime min­is­ter af­ter the Con­ser­va­tives won more seats in 2006, al­low­ing Stephen Harper to form his first mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment. But Canada’s par­lia­men­tary sys­tem al­lows for coali­tion gov­ern­ments, which means that Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau could con­tinue on as prime min­is­ter if there is a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment and he can se­cure sup­port from enough other MPs to win key votes.

NDP Leader Jag­meet Singh let the coali­tion ge­nie out of the bot­tle on Sun­day, say­ing he would “ab­so­lutely” con­sider a coali­tion with the Lib­er­als to pre­vent Scheer from be­com­ing prime min­is­ter.

Trudeau, mean­while, re­peat­edly dis­missed ques­tions on Thurs­day about a po­ten­tial coali­tion or other ar­range­ment in the House of Com­mons.

“We are fo­cused on elect­ing a strong Lib­eral gov­ern­ment that is go­ing to be able to con­tinue the hard work of fight­ing against cli­mate change and in­vest­ing in fam­i­lies. The choice is very, very clear for Cana­di­ans,” he said dur­ing a cam­paign stop in Trois-Rivieres, Que.

“Coali­tion” is not a dirty word, Singh said as he railed against Canada’s elec­toral sys­tem, which gives the can­di­date with the most votes in each rid­ing the vic­tory. Singh also crit­i­cized Trudeau for break­ing his 2015 cam­paign prom­ise that that elec­tion would be the last un­der the first-past-the-post sys­tem.

Singh said the sys­tem means that fewer than half of vot­ers can choose a cer­tain party, “and they get all the power, and that’s wrong.” Singh said Cana­di­ans of­ten feel their vote doesn’t mat­ter, adding 60 per cent of Cana­di­ans “reg­u­larly” vote against the Con­ser­va­tives.

“So it’s wrong for the Con­ser­va­tives to think that with less than 40 per of the power — or vote — they de­serve all the ma­jor­ity of power. That’s wrong,” Singh said in Wel­land where for­mer NDP MP Mal­colm Allen is try­ing to take back his old seat of Ni­a­gara Cen­tre from Lib­eral MP Vance Badawey.

Singh started his day off at the pop­u­lar Blue Star Res­tau­rant in south Wel­land with Allen and On­tario NDP Leader An­drea Hor­wath. .”

Green Leader El­iz­a­beth May said it was pre­ma­ture to talk of coali­tion gov­ern­ments as she also laid into Trudeau for not liv­ing up to the 2015 pledge to change the Cana­dian vot­ing sys­tem.

Bloc Québé­cois Leader Yves-Fran­cois Blanchet re­it­er­ated his party’s po­si­tion that it isn’t in­ter­ested in prop­ping up any mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, and in­stead would be guided by one cri­te­ria: what is good for Que­bec.

ADRIAN WYLD THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

NDP’s Jag­meet Singh, Green party’s El­iz­a­beth May, Peo­ple's Party of Canada’s Maxime Bernier, the Lib­eral’s Justin Trudeau and the Con­ser­va­tive’s An­drew Scheer at the Oct. 10 lead­ers de­bate.

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