Jagmeet Singh should force Trudeau to flip back to proportional representation

Mar 18, 2023

I think it is time to play politics.

About a year ago, Jagmeet Singh and the NDP entered into a “supply-and-confidence” agreement with Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. The parties agreed to come together on 7 key issues; health, affordability, climate change, labour, reconciliation, tax initiatives, and democracy.

While we have seen some activity in the first 6 issues from a legislative perspective, it’s that last category that keeps flashing in front of me – democracy.

Let’s face it, the NDP are not exactly known for being the most-savvy politically. Nobody ever accused that party of being overly strategic. In fact, many do not see the up-side for the NDP, other than getting a few scraps from the legislative table like partial dental coverage, or daycare spaces.

Missing from this theatre is an NDP leader that can hold the prime minister’s feet to the fire, and what better fire than one that Trudeau started himself.

Proportional representation.

If we could point to one absolute failure of leadership from Trudeau, one that took something he held near-and-dear and watched him trade his principles for political survival, it would have to be his flip-flop on proportional representation. A cornerstone of Trudeau’s original policy platform in 2015, Trudeau’s brain trust took out their abacus and calculated that the Liberal Party would lose their grip on power if they kept their promise, and so they went through the motions of committee hearings, then stifled debate before using their majority to break their promise.

To date, from a credibility perspective, it remains the worst political moment for Trudeau.

That’s why it would be prudent, and savvy, for Singh to resurrect this about-face by Trudeau and force him to publicly reconsider his party’s position, or force him to publicly relive one of his worst political moments.

Singh quietly pontificated about electoral reform after the 2019 election, but said it was not urgent to a possible NDP/Liberal agreement, an agreement that materialized 3 years later in 2022. Since then, the NDP have not talked about electoral reform publicly.

Canada’s National Observer’s Max Fawcett wrote about this very issue last September, saying “if Trudeau and Singh want to deliver a truly lasting win for Canadians, they should revisit their positions on electoral reform and find a way to deliver on the promises made in the 2015 election campaign.”

Fawcett might be right, but by now I think Trudeau would likely be, once again, motivated by political survival as stories of Chinese interference continue to cast a shadow, rightly or wrongly, over his minority government.

Perhaps Singh needs to understand that despite wanting to be the party of goodness, he could benefit from actually playing the game once in a while. He doesn’t need to go in to discussions about democratic reform with the sole hope of actual reform materializing. Rather, Singh needs to pretend the NDP actual have political strategists on staff who can read the ether and see a no-loss proposition by forcing the Liberals to talk about a subject that was once an albatross.

At the very least, Jagmeet, it’s time to play politics.

Contributing Writers

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