Could the NDP try to influence Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?
Published Tuesday, October 22, 2019 6:23PM PDT
VANCOUVER - NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made it very clear during the election campaign that if he was prime minister, he would scrap the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. He doesn't have that kind of power, but his party will likely have some policy influence with the governing Liberals.
"I'm hoping that Mr. Trudeau respects the fact that there is a minority government now, which means we've got to work together," said Singh during a news conference the morning after the election.
When Singh was asked if he would withhold his party's support on key votes if Justin Trudeau moves forward with the pipeline expansion, he was non-committal.
"Well, everything's on the table," Singh said. "I can say that much, that we are not ruling out anything."
But several UBC political science professors don't think Singh has that much leverage, and even if he did, it's not a prudent move.
"I they have to think of the consequences of that, and the consequence is potentially an election, which I don't think the NDP are in any position to run again," said Gerald Baier.
His colleagues agree.
"I don't see the NDP bringing a non-confidence mountain about Trans Mountain," said UBC political science professor Kathryn Harrison. "Their war chests are depleted. If anyone the Conservatives are in the best shape financially. So no one wants to pull the plug, and I think there's also a reasonable concern that voters will punish the party that results in a new election too soon."
"He doesn't have high enough cards, he doesn't have a mandate to do this," said fellow UBC political scientist Richard Johnston. "He doesn't really have the capacity to hold the Liberals hostage."
Baier thinks Singh's best move would be continuing to oppose the project publicly, without trying to block it outright.
"If the government is determined to plow it through, he has to make it clear that they did that."
That seems to be what the NDP leader is doing.
"Canadians have made their choice, I respect their choice," said Singh. "I believe that we have to fight Trans Mountain, so I'll continue to fight it. I’ll raise my position, and I'll raise the concerns of Canadians every time I get a chance to."