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Having a good supply of confidence

So the Liberals and the NDP have teamed up to possibly ensure their political future … er, possibly ensure Canadians won’t go to the polls until 2025.

The two parties have signed a confidence-and-supply agreement whereby, in theory, the NDP will support the Liberals on confidence motions in return for legislative actions on issues such as dental care, pharmacare, housing etc.

The Conservatives, who are apoplectic about it (what aren’t they apoplectic about?) would never do such a thing. The merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives was toooootally different.

Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen call the move a “power grab.” She’s got that right, sort of. The agreement doesn’t give Prime Minister Justin Trudeau any more power than he had previously … or the Liberals, or Jagmeet Singh, or the NDP. It does, potentially, keep Trudeau and the Liberals in power, though.

Leaders will often do what they need to do to stay in power. Remember Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued parliament twice to stave off votes that likely would have crumbled his minority government.

Neither proroguing parliament nor entering into a confidence-and-supply agreement break any rules so at least our leaders are operating with the parameters set out for them … whether we like it or not.

Is the agreement a good thing for the country?

Depends if you like elections or not. Personally, I don’t mind elections as the more times I get to vote, the better. I’m always suspect of those who like to pound their chest for democracy but who turn around and whine that elections are too costly to hold frequently and opine that we should elect majorities that can rule with impunity for four years. But that’s another story.

I like minority governments as they force political parties to work together to get things done and isn’t this exactly that? I also support electoral reform and/or proportional representation for the same reason.

However, given the war in Ukraine, it’s probably a good thing for the country not to be dissolving parliament in the midst of everything. Of course we made the same argument about the pandemic, but no one listened then either.

The agreement does throw a bit of monkey-wrench into Conservative leadership race. The Conservatives were, no doubt, gearing to elect a new leader this fall, have a bit of an adjustment phase, and head to the polls in the spring of 2023 … about 18 months after the previous one, which is the standard length for a minority government. No such luck.

The new leader will have plenty of time to either galvanize support across the country or stick their foot in their mouth … or have the long knives come out. Poor Jean Charest, he will be, literally, collecting Old Age Security in 2025. But hey, so will I so that’s nothing to hold against anyone.

As for the New Democrats, if they can get the legislation that they want passed, it will truly be a win for them and for the country. However, the agreement is vague on everything except when the Liberals expect the New Democrats to toe the line.

In addition, we here in B.C. know full well confidence-and-supply agreements can disappear as quickly as they materialize. Should the stars (polls) align for the Liberals, Trudeau can, and likely will, pull the plug on the agreement lickety-split.

So is the agreement a bad thing for the country? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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