Trudeau has a choice, work with NDP or work with Tories: Singh

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OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh laid out two paths before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he approaches the start of his term in power: either collaborate with the NDP or with the Conservatives, but not both.

Given the minority scenario Trudeau finds himself in, he will require support from opposition parties to move forward on key legislation.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has a choice, he can work with Conservatives who perhaps he can find a way to move forward with Conservatives, or he can seek our support,” said Singh.

“If they want to pass a bill that’s progressive, that’s going to benefit all Canadians they have to work with New Democrats.”

While Singh suggested the NDP and the Conservatives are Trudeau’s likely option to seek support, the Bloq Quebecois now hold third-party status and the leverage that comes with.

Singh said Bloq Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has made it known that he will only work to advance policies that benefit Quebec, not the entire country.

“Mr. Blanchet has said quite openly that if Mr. Trudeau wants to do something that doesn’t help Quebec, he can’t rely on him for support,” he said. “If they want to pass something national that benefits all Canadians, they’ve got two options.”

Singh met with Trudeau in Ottawa Thursday morning, as part of the prime minister’s series of sit-downs with opposition leaders before Parliament resumes on December 5.

He said the two talked about their shared progressive vision on such issues as climate change, universal pharamcare, public dental coverage, and Indigenous reconciliation.

“I’m willing to work together and from the meeting it seemed like there were some openness to work with me,” said the NDP leader in a subsequent interview on CTV Power Play.

While Singh has stated he’s not issuing ultimatums, he says the NDP would be willing to vote against the throne speech if it doesn’t somehow acknowledge his party’s requests.

“I want to see some clear dates and some clear timelines, that to me would show a real commitment,” said Singh on Thursday. “We’re not going to see everything in the throne speech but I want to see movement.”

NDP strategist Karl Belanger told CTV News there will undoubtedly be elements of Trudeau’s address that will appeal to the NDP as well as the other opposition parties, which will require some level of compromise.

“It’s a little bit like a game of chicken, who will fold first, will it be Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Singh?” said Belanger. “[The speech] will have elements that will be counter to their plan and proposal.”

He added that Singh’s comments on Thursday that the Bloc Quebecois has no interest in national issues and wouldn’t be a strategic partner in federal decision-making have the potential to alienate former NDP supporters in Quebec.

“A lot of current Bloc voters voted NDP in the past. If he wants to recover them, he can’t dismiss them. The people who voted for the Bloc Quebecois this time around aren’t necessarily hardcore separatists,” said Belanger.

With files from The Canadian Press.