Opinion: Justin Trudeau needs to listen to Jagmeet Singh

Now the juggling begins as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named his new cabinet at a ceremony Nov. 20 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

In 2015, the balls were all being juggled by the Liberal majority government; four years later there are others in the act in a minority parliament.

Opposition leaders want to have their hands on the balls, but all parliamentarians must realize Canadians elected a minority government because that is what they wanted to have oversee their country. They did not elect a minority government so the parties could only plan strategies to have another election in a shorter term than the set date of four years.

There is a gap in the middle of Canada where there were no Liberals elected in Alberta or Saskatchewan, which is the choice those voters made.

The new cabinet did not include an appointed minister from that area, so other methods need to be undertaken so the government can respond to their concerns.

There is a tendency for people who live east of the Manitoba/Ontario border to apply the term “the West” when describing frustration with the lack of energy extraction attention. That is definitely not the case in all of B.C., where there are NDP and Green strongholds that do not share Conservative concerns regarding pipelines.

Our two Burnaby NDP representatives - party leader Jagmeet Singh and Peter Julian - and the rest of a depleted NDP caucus, are hoping the juggling act that takes place in the near future will provide them with the opportunity to push for some major items from their election platform. They include universal pharmacare, more money for mental health, focus on climate change mitigation, affordable housing and daycare initiatives.

Singh has already met with Trudeau to push for these things. Trudeau needs to listen to Singh.

Then there is Burnaby North-Seymour MP Terry Beech, who managed to keep the riding Liberal despite his leader actually buying the pipeline. Instead of rewarding him for pulling off that feat, Beech got snubbed when it came to cabinet appointments. Beech has good reason to be steamed, but we digress.

This country has benefited from Liberal minority governments in the past, supported by the NDP, including creation of Canada’s health-care system, expansion of social programs, a new flag, the Canada Pension Plan, Petro-Canada, Foreign Investment Review Agency regulation of election expenses, Canada Student Loans Program and the Canada Assistance Plan. There is no reason to think there will not be any benefits from this minority government.

The election outcome reflects that a majority of Canadian voters elected members from parties with a firm commitment to climate change mitigation, but also a majority indicated support for pipelines to get oil resources to markets. How that particular juggling act works out will require dexterity from all parliamentarians.

Stay tuned and keep your eyes on the balls.

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