Jagmeet Singh won't support the Conservatives, but could Liberals prop up an Andrew Scheer minority government?

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      Unless the Liberals pull off a stunning rebound in the next few days, Canada may end up with a minority government.

      To date, there's been a great deal of speculation over which party—the Conservatives or the Liberals—will receive the support of either the NDP, Greens, or Bloc Québécois.

      NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been unequivocal: he will not help Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer become prime minister. 

      But as support for the Liberals and Conservatives has waned over the campaign, there's one other possibility that no one has suggested.

      And that's whether the Conservatives and Liberals could end up in bed together in defiance of the other parties.

      They have more in common than they often let on, including:

      * both parties support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion;

      * both parties are comfortable with doctor-assisted-death legislation that falls far short of what the Supreme Court of Canada mandated;

      * both parties support mandatory minimum sentences;

      * both parties support a law that criminalizes the sale of sex;

      * both parties are adamantly opposed to creating a safe supply to prevent illicit-drug overdoses;

      * both parties support trade agreements that allow investors to sue governments;

      * both parties support cash payments to parents rather than creating a national childcare program;

      * both parties support appealing a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision that would give billions of dollars to Indigenous children and youth and their families;

      * both parties support a complete ban on cannabis marketing, notwithstanding its negative impact on a billion-dollar Canadian industry;

      * both parties oppose taxing wealthy people's assets;

      * and both parties oppose a guaranteed basic income.

      There are differences, such as over a carbon tax, gun control, public support for arts and culture, financial support for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, timelines for infrastructure spending, refugee policies, progressivity of the tax system, and the magnitude of government deficits.

      But there are also many points upon which the Liberals and Conservatives agree. As the NDP pivots left under Singh and the Greens zero in on the climate crisis, the two traditional ruling parties have more reasons to work together in the future.

      Journalists covering the election campaign rarely point this out.

      If Liberals fare badly in the election, it could cost Justin Trudeau the leadership of his party.
      Adam Scotti/PMO

      Trudeau irks right wingers

      So why can't the two parties get along? Part of it is personality-based.

      Conservative supporters often despise Justin Trudeau, whom they sometimes deride as "Sock Boy". They see him as a privileged kid who became prime minister on the popularity of his surname.

      Many Conservatives also think that Liberals have no principles.

      And Liberals look upon many Conservatives as being out of step on LGBT rights and failing to understand how Canada is enriched by its diversity.

      It's a cultural divide.

      But the ideological split wasn't nearly so great when Paul Martin led the Liberals. Nor would it be if Ralph Goodale or Marc Garneau were to become interim Liberal leader after an election.

      So, could the Liberals support the Conservatives, or vice versa, in a minority Parliament?

      All you have to do is look at the last minority Parliament.

      From 2009 to 2011, the Liberals under Michael Ignatieff and with Goodale and Garneau in key caucus positions repeatedly propped up the Stephen Harper government.

      There was no coalition, not even a confidence and supply agreement.

      But Harper knew that Ignatieff wasn't going to collude with the NDP and the Bloc on a nonconfidence motion.

      In 2011, the NDP campaign highlighted that Ignatieff "did not show up for two-thirds of the key confidence votes" in the previous year.

      In this 2011 election ad, the NDP highlighted how Liberals kept Conservatives in power.

      Leadership races take time

      Today, it's hard to see the Liberals and the Conservatives helping one another out as long as Trudeau is leader.

      But should he fare poorly in this election and the party ends up in a civil war over who should succeed him, all bets are off.

      Under these circumstances, the Liberals could very well end up propping up a Conservative minority government until a new leader is chosen. And that could take at least a year or more.

      The same is true if the knives come out in the Conservative party for Scheer, should he fare badly on October 21.

      The Conservatives won't want to bring down a Liberal minority government until their new leader is in place. 

      Keep in mind that it took two years for the NDP to elect its new leader after the 2015 election debacle under Tom Mulcair.

      Christy Clark had the support of federal Liberals and Kevin Falcon had the support of federal Conservatives when they competed for the leadership of the B.C. Liberals in 2011.
      Stephen Hui

      B.C. shows how it can be done

      It's not as if federal Conservatives and federal Liberals haven't worked well together in the past.

      In B.C., federal Conservatives and federal Liberals have maintained a partnership for 25 years under the umbrella of the B.C. Liberal Party.

      Many B.C. Liberals are supporting the Trudeau government.

      One former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister, Joyce Murray, is a member of the Trudeau cabinet. Another former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister, Terry Lake, is a federal Liberal candidate.

      Other B.C. Liberals, like former finance minister Kevin Falcon, are publicly backing the Conservatives. Another former B.C. Liberal MLA, Marc Dalton, is a Conservative candidate.

      If Murray and Falcon could reach agreement at the B.C. cabinet table and if Lake and Dalton could forge consensus in the B.C. Liberal caucus, why couldn't the same thing happen federally?

      Of course, it could.

      But suggesting that the Conservatives and Liberals are not really that different from one another goes against the grain of political discourse in this country.

      That's why you won't hear it raised on all those political panels that are popping up on radio and television.