Source: Tom Nellist
AS JUSTIN Trudeau battles a scandal which threatens to bring down his government, opposition leader Jagmeet Singh has promised to “ramp up the pressure” on the embattled Canadian prime minister.
Mr Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party, said he “danced the night away” after winning a seat in Canada’s House of Commons in a by-election yesterday allowing him to finally go toe-to-toe with Mr Trudeau. Canada’s Prime Minister is facing intense pressure to reveal exactly what he knows about whether officials from his office inappropriately pressured a former cabinet minister to interfere with a prosecution on construction giant SNC-Lavalin. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s former justice secretary and attorney general, has said she hopes to “tell her truth” when she appears before the Commons’ justice committee later today amid accusations ‘a line was clearly crossed’.
Ms Wilson-Raybould quit the Cabinet last month and is consulting lawyers as to what she can say on the scandal.
Last week, Canada’s top civil servant Michael Wernick denied any wrongdoing when he testified to the justice committee but admitted Ms Wilson-Raybould would likely “express concern” about a series of meetings on SNC-Lavalin when she speaks.
Mr Singh, head of Canada’s third biggest party, said his by-election victory “allows me to ramp up the pressure on Mr Trudeau and on the Liberal government”.
He added: “It allows me to really put into focus the question, ‘Is this Liberal government more interest in helping their well-connected, powerful friends like SNC-Lavalin?’”.
The 40-year-old has made waves in Canadian politics as the first person of a minority ethnic group to become leader of a major party.
Mr Singh was chosen to replace Tom Mulcair in October last year as the former NDP leader lost a leadership review.
He finally won a Commons seat by seizing Vancouver constituency Burnaby South with 39 percent of the vote this week.
The win means he can now face Mr Trudeau in parliament directly, joining opposition Conservative calls for a public inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin affair.
Mr Trudeau has dismissed a full-scale investigation, saying the Ethics Commissioner’s examination into events is enough to answer Canadians’ questions.
Mr Singh will take up his Commons seat on March 18 and has promised to seize the limited opportunity to speak before Canada’s parliament rises in June ahead of elections in October.
Mr Mulcair’s former principal secretary, Karl Belanger, said Mr Singh “has an opportunity to be seen and heard on the same stage as the other main party leaders”.
He added there is no time to waste for Mr Singh to put pressure on Mr Trudeau with the autumn elections just around the political corner.
Mr Mulcair added: “It will be up to him to perform and do well and connect with Canadians with a narrative that speaks to their priorities.”