Party leaders argue over how Canada will be governed //
Conservatives, Liberals still deadlocked in polls, leaders talk coalitions
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.
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.