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One of these things is exactly like the other

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says an early election would be selfish – just not this one.
Campaigning in an early pandemic election, in between taking credit for stopping an early pandemic election. (BC NDP Flickr)

For those looking for virtue in Canadian and BC politics – this was a depressing week.

A year to the day after the last federal election, Ottawa stood on the precipice of another one, this time during the second wave of a pandemic.

After proroguing parliament, the minority Liberal government called the bluff: vote against creating a new committee to investigate the WE Scandal, or we all go to an election.

The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois were prepared to go that far. The Liberals would obviously vote no. The question rested on how the NDP would vote. (The Greens don’t have enough MPs to swing results either way.)

In the end, the NDP voted no.

"In this case, what it was really about, what became really clear, was that Prime Minister Trudeau was looking for an excuse to go to an election and we did not want to give Justin Trudeau an excuse to go to an election," said Singh.

It’s hard to unpack someone’s motivations, but I’m sure Singh wanted to avoid an unnecessary snap election – not when the pandemic’s second wave is crashing across the country. But also not when the party is losing ground in the polls, and still essentially bankrupt.

(In August, NDP national director Anne McGrath said finances were still a problem but if principles were at stake, they’d saddle up and charge into an election. My phrasing, not hers; mine’s more fun.)

Fine. It’s one thing to look past “self-serving dramas” and not trigger an election over a scandal, as Jack Layton once did, and decide that with infection numbers continuing to increase, on balance the country is better served not having an election right now.

The minority government that wanted to force an early snap election during a pandemic, because it selfishly thought it could take advantage of a new opposition leader and win a majority? Well, it would just have to cool its jets, and get back to serving Canadians.

Noble stuff. But Singh had JUST spent the past few days enthusiastically campaigning for a minority government that forced an early snap election during a pandemic, because it selfishly thought it could take advantage of a new opposition leader and win a majority.

Asked about it, John Horgan said the two situations aren’t the same at all. One is a minority government trying to force an early election during a pandemic to seize a majority, and the other is…a little more than two years older. And have you seen the new Green leader? A monster.

Doubling down, Horgan said he hadn’t asked Singh to campaign – which is true, in that a party functionary would be the one making that particular call. And Singh choosing to travel and campaign across the strait in Sonia Furstenau’s Cowichan Valley riding?

Surely just happenstance.

Maclean Kay is Editor-in-Chief of The Orca