As the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party remain neck-and-neck in nationwide projections, a minority government is on the minds of both politicians and the electorate.
That became clear during the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola all-candidates forum on Wednesday (Oct. 9) at the Westbank Lions Community Centre after an audience member asked the MP hopefuls how they would tackle the hypothetical situation.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of veteran MPs who actually lived through minority governments. I’ll tell you what, it is a very rough, turbulent time,” said Conservative candidate Dan Albas.
“Oftentimes, the relationships are strained and people end up with very hard feelings over a period of time.”
Albas went on to explain a recent experience he had working with opposing parliamentarians after a report was released that identified at least $5 billion in real estate money laundering in B.C. over just one year.
“I was so impressed that Liberal members, many who had openly rejected my ideas at the beginning of the process, came around to those same ideas and we presented that to the minister of finance. That’s how the system should work.”
Albas said he would be “very tested” to work with the Bloc Quebecois as “Canada is stronger as a united whole.”
Liberal candidate Mary Ann Murphy said it’s not an issue of whether she’s willing to work with other parties.
“It’s the responsibility of a member of parliament to represent you instead of going to Ottawa to engage in fighting with the other parties and spending most of their time bickering,” she said.
“I’m sick of that. I’m sick of hearing about it. I would like to see results.”
Murphy added that her support of other parties would come “issue-by-issue.”
“Could I accept one of the party’s positions on immigration? No, I couldn’t,” she said, motioning towards the People’s Party of Canada candidate Allan Duncan.
“Could I accept the Conservative’s position on the TMX (Trans Mountain Pipeline)? Of course, I could.”
She went on to say she would also accept the Green position to work on climate and the NDP’s Indigenous reconciliation policies.
The NDP’s Joan Phillip said she would work with any government that wants to “lift up people.”
“We’ve been subsidizing that top one per cent for too long,” she stated.
“Working people should be brought up and not pushed down as they have been over the past 152 years.”
According to Phillip, the Conservative and Liberal governments have created a “condition” in which the wealthiest people are taxed the least.
Duncan believes the parliamentary system already encourages co-operation between MPs and the People’s Party will bring a currently unheard voice to those conversations.
“That voice needs to be heard. I know there’s a lot of aggressive rhetoric to get that voice out,” he said.
“I like to work with as many dance partners as possible. I like making new friends. I’d be willing to work with any of the parties, just as that is part of my personality.”
He agreed with Albas that working with the Bloc Quebecois would be a problem but said he would still work with the party on issues that didn’t involve the leverage of separatism.
Robert Mellalieu of the Green Party started his statement on the issue with a pertinent joke: “a camel is a horse built by committee.”
Mellalieu attributed the Green Party’s unwillingness to work with the Conservatives on their stance on environmental issues.
“Once we get them convinced that their climate plan isn’t going to work and they should take a look at the Green one … then we can work with the Conservatives,” he said.
Mellalieu also reminded the audience both universal health care and old-age pension were put in place by minority governments.
“Don’t be afraid of that. Some good things will come of it,” he said.