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Could we get a coalition government? UBC poli sci prof says don't count on it

Last Updated Oct 14, 2019 at 1:49 pm MST

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau (left) and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz, Darryl Dyck)
Summary

A UBC political scientist says talk of forming any coalition governments may be premature

Bloc Québécois could be in a better position to form a coalition government than the NDP

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has backed away from suggestions of forming a coalition with the Liberals

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A neck-and-neck race between the Liberals and Conservatives has raised the spectre of a possible coalition government, something Canada has very little experience with.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh appeared to say he was open to forming a coalition with the Liberals, but backed down from the suggestion Monday.

RELATED: NDP’s Jagmeet Singh walks back talk of coalition with Liberals

UBC political science professor Richard Johnston says if any party is likely to hold the balance of power after Oct. 21, it’s the Bloc Québécois, who is primed to gain several seats, and could conceivably be the number three party in the House.

“The program of the Greens and the program of the NDP would not become the program of the Liberals. Neither of those smaller parties would have a mandate to try and impose it,” Johnston says.

He is out with a reminder that popular support and actual seats in Parliament are different things, and in several ridings, the vote is still in flux.

“The vote itself is in some flux. Most of the flux is actually in Quebec, and so if there’s any party that’s in the position to be a kingmaker by itself, it’s much more likely to be Bloc Quebecois than any other party, and whom they would align with is a very interesting question.”

RELATED: Tight race into final week of election, Singh campaigns in Lower Mainland amid NDP surge

If two parties do decide to share power, he says the party that forms government has the most to gain.

“Just ask Andrew Weaver now that he’s had some time to think about it – how much do the B.C. Greens get out of the formal confidence of supply agreement that they struck with the NDP?” he says. “The answer would be: not much.”

He adds it’s still way too early to be talking about coalitions, and the fact they are being discussed is part of Singh’s campaign strategy.

Formal coalitions are very rare in federal politics – Canada has only had one once, and that was 100 years ago.