Supply and confidence agreement looks different in face of plummeting poll numbers

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With the Conservative poll numbers resembling a ‘runaway freight train’, and the Liberals in save the furniture mode, you have to wonder what is going through the minds of Jagmeet Singh and the NDP. Photo credit: Twitter/Jagmeet Singh


The summer has come and gone, and next week will usher in the fall session of parliament. For political enthusiasts, all eyes will be on the Prime Minister to see how he handles the reality of plummeting poll numbers and a caucus that is beginning to see the writing on the wall.

The Liberals needed a victory over the last few months. But instead of seizing the opportunity to reconnect with Canadians and reset their agenda to align with the concerns of Canadians, the summer barbecue season resulted in one bad news story after another. A lacklustre cabinet shuffle, the steady drip of negative economic trends, and another disastrous trip to India have all put a spotlight on the antics of Justin Trudeau. None of it is good news for the Liberal Party.

This could prove to be a make-or-break parliamentary session for Trudeau as he attempts to pick up the pieces of his agenda and placate his caucus ahead of the next election. With the Conservative poll numbers resembling a ‘runaway freight train’, and the Liberals in save the furniture mode, you have to wonder what is going through the minds of the NDP caucus.

Jagmeet Singh has been the leader of the NDP since 2017 and has been at the helm of the ship for the last two federal elections. In the 2021 election, the NDP managed to add just a single seat to its total count.

On the back of a lacklustre election result, Singh went on to broker the supply and confidence agreement with the Liberal government that would see his caucus support budgetary and estimate bills in exchange for key promises on several NDP priorities, like dental and pharma care. 

Singh has since read the tea leaves and said he will advocate for housing and affordability measures to be included in the deal, knowing that the Liberal government will be looking to hold off fighting an election until the numbers are more favourable for them. 

The question is: will the agreement pay off for the NDP in the long-term, and bolster their chances to pick up more seats in the next election? Unlikely.

While the NDP maintains the agreement with the Liberals is the best way to hold the government to account and get policy priorities implemented, the reality is they aren’t seeing their numbers improve despite a number of policy wins. According to Abacus Data polling released this week, the NDP sits at just 18 per cent, compared to 26 per cent for the Liberals and 41 per cent for the Conservatives. 

The reality of a minority parliament is the NDP could call it quits on the agreement tomorrow, and the government wouldn’t fall. They could choose to up the ante on opposing the actions of the Liberal government and could start staking their claim for the progressive vote in the next election. After all, with Trudeau’s star dimming, and Poilievre on the rise, disenchanted Liberal voters will be looking for an alternative. 

But in its current form, the NDP are doing themselves no favours by continuing to support the Liberals through the supply and confidence agreement. They continue to bleed support, and some of that is even shifting over to the Conservatives, who have made it clear that they are looking at claiming long-held NDP territory in the next election. 

If the NDP continues its current trajectory, they stand to fade into irrelevance and will all but guarantee a Conservative win in the next election. Just as Trudeau is facing a reckoning with his own caucus in London, Ontario this week, the NDP would do well to look in the mirror and engage in self-reflection this fall.

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