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What role will New Westminster’s MP play in Ottawa?

Some local New Democrats believe it’s their party’s time to shine in Ottawa – and they see New Westminster’s MP as being a big part of that plan.
Peter Julian Jagmeet Singh
New Westminster-Burnaby incumbent Peter Julian, right, was re-elected in Monday's federal election. He's prepared to take on any role federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, left, has in store for him.

Some local New Democrats believe it’s their party’s time to shine in Ottawa – and they see New Westminster’s MP as being a big part of that plan.

New Westminster councillors Chuck Puchmayr and Jaimie McEvoy were among the local New Democrats attending the federal NDP election party at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown on Monday night. With the Liberals forming a minority government, they feel the NDP could play an important role in Parliament.

“Peter is the house leader of the NDP,” McEvoy said. “If there is a coalition government, he will actually be playing a really key role, probably, in those discussions and how that will work.”

Julian, who was re-elected to a sixth term in office, said he’s prepared to take on whatever role NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wants him to play.

“That’s up to the leader. We have a very good relationship. I was more than happy to substitute for him in some of the debates,” he said. “He will make those decisions in the coming days, but I am happy to play any role I can.”

With the Liberals forming a minority government, Julian said the NDP will continue to fight for issues like affordable housing, access to dental care, a national pharmacare program and action against climate change. He said the NDP, under leader Jack Layton, was able to push for issues like post-secondary education and seniors services in 2005, at a time when the Liberals had a minority government under then prime minister Paul Martin.

Puchmayr said there was a time at the beginning of the summer when he worried whether the NDP would be able to keep its official party status in Ottawa. The NDP won 24 seats, 15 fewer than it had before the election.

“I know we have dropped a few (seats), but we have stayed really strong,” he said. “I think being able to possibly form a coalition, the NDP can really shine.”

Puchmayr believes Canadians want to see a government that “breaks the divide and comes together and works together” for the good of the country – something he thinks is achievable with a minority government.

“I think it is an exciting time,” he said. “We will just have to see how long this can last, and hopefully there will be some really good benefits for the average people in Canada.”

McEvoy thinks a Liberal/NDP coalition could work well together, noting minority governments in Canada that worked together to introduce initiatives such as medicare.

“I think the NDP will push the Liberals to revive the national housing program,” he said.

Based on the 157 seats they won in Monday’s election, the Liberals would need support from other parties to pass legislation. Whether the Liberals seek support from parties on a vote-by-vote basis or attempt to form a formal coalition, remains to be seen.

Following British Columbia’s 2016 election, when the Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP took 41 and the Greens had three, NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver reached an agreement that would have the parties working together to have a majority of support in the legislature.

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