If the upcoming federal election results in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives winning a plurality of the seats in the House of Commons, NDP MP Nathan Cullen says his party will look to team up with the Liberals to form a coalition government.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau told a news conference in April he is “unequivocally opposed to any sort of coalition”. But, according to Cullen, Trudeau would have little choice but to share power with the NDP in this scenario.
“If Trudeau’s willing to turn to Liberal supporters and say, ‘My dislike of the NDP is greater than my dislike of the Conservatives,’ then let him make the argument,” the Skeena–Bulkley Valley MP said during a recent interview at the Georgia Straight offices. “But it makes no sense to me.”
Earlier this month, University of British Columbia law professor Margot Young told the Straight that Governor General David Johnston has three options if no party wins a majority this fall. The viceregal representative can grant the party with the most seats a minority government, allow parties with a total number of seats larger than the plurality to form a coalition government, or call another election.
In 2008, then–Liberal leader Stéphane Dion and then–NDP leader Jack Layton attempted to form a coalition government with the support of the Bloc Québécois. Harper thwarted the opposition parties’ plan by asking then–governor general Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament.
“We’ve walked the talk, so Canadians can trust us when we say we’re willing to do whatever it takes to see the end of Mr. Harper,” Cullen said.
Liberal party officials didn’t respond to an interview request by deadline.
Cullen also asserted that an NDP government would move quickly to bring in a mixed-member proportional-representation system by the following election. He argued that a referendum on electoral reform won’t be necessary.
“If we seek that mandate and gain that mandate, we will see that as an opportunity to affect the voting system,” Cullen said. “Canadians weren’t consulted when first-past-the-post was brought in. It was just done. We’ve never been consulted since. We’re going to do something a lot more democratic and fair.”
Update (July 23): Justin Trudeau has told a news conference in Winnipeg that a NDP-Liberal coalition is "out of the question".