TORONTO (AP) — The leader of one of Canada’s opposition parties said Wednesday he will not give Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “the election he is looking for.”
New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh said his party will vote against an election. Trudeau’s minority Liberal government said Monday a Conservative party opposition push for an anti-corruption committee will trigger a vote later Wednesday that could force a fall election.
The Liberal government has declared the Conservative motion to be a matter of confidence. Trudeau’s Liberal party won re-election last year but does not have the majority of seats in Parliament and must rely on at least one opposition party to remain in power. The leftist New Democrat party appears ready to support the government.
“We will be voting against an election,” said Singh, who added his party wants to focus on what Canada needs during the pandemic.
Singh not say if his party will abstain from the vote or vote with the Liberals against the Conservatives.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said her Liberal government does not want an election but that it is up to the opposition.
“The motion that was put forward was a motion that really drips of non-confidence,” Freeland said. “We need to ask our colleagues if they support the government.”
The opposition Conservatives, the New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois have argued the Liberals are avoiding scrutiny of contracts and programs set up to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Liberals temporarily closed Parliament in August, which shut down the work of existing committees probing the We Charity deal.
Trudeau has said he should have recused himself from a Cabinet decision to award a contract to We Charity to administer money to students having trouble finding work due to the pandemic. The almost billion-dollar program came under scrutiny after it was revealed that We Charity, an organization Trudeau’s family has worked for, was chosen to administer it. Trudeau’s wife, brother and mother have been paid a combined $300,000 Canadian (US$221,000) for speaking at a number of WE events.
The Conservatives have said the committee could explore the WE Charity deal. Liberal House leader Pablo Rodriguez has said the motion would allow the opposition to pull cabinet ministers from their work and require them to testify “day-after-day.”