Home Election Tracker Canadian Federal 2025 NDP explores pre-election strategies: critic shuffle & distance on carbon pricing

NDP explores pre-election strategies: critic shuffle & distance on carbon pricing

NDP distancing itself from carbon tax communications failure.

justin trudeau, jagmeet singh, april 2024
THIS WEEK: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on April 11, 2024 and Jagmeet Singh on April 8, 2024 in Ottawa. [IST composite]

Friday April 12, 2024 | NATIONAL NEWS – covered from Vancouver Island, BC

Political analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poked a gentle jab toward the NDP and their leader Jagmeet Singh for what has recently seemed like a drifting away on climate action policy.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh [File: March 22, 2022 in Ottawa]

In fact, it even sounded a bit dismissive: “I feel for the NDP and for Jagmeet. This is a hard moment. There are political headwinds. There’s a lot of political pressure,” the prime minister said.

But it could be that Singh and the NDP are finding ways to start apart from the Liberals as the next federal election looms.

Trudeau knows full well why the NDP is shifting on carbon price support. It’s all about politics.

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The election is currently scheduled for October 20, 2025.

But that could change if the Liberals lose the support of the NDP that pretty much stands firm unless the NDP stand back from the two parties’ current Supply and Confidence Agreement (established in May 2022).

Critic role shifts:

The NDP has also recently begun a series of critic portfolio changes. As it becomes more clear which NDP MPs will not be running for re-election, Singh is sorting the forward flank (notably all three from BC).

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NDP MLA Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) in the House of Commons on April 11, 2024. [CPAC livestream]
  • In recent days Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) was put back into the Public Safety and National Defence critic role that he held a few years ago, while also now still carrying the Agriculture & Agri-Food critic role (with the grocery pricing component in that).
  • NDP House Leader Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby) is now front and centre with the Health critic file after years of working toward realizing pharmacare for Canadians (his private members bill failed but this year there have been partial achievements by way of the Supply and Confidence agreement).
  • As the NDP Critic for Environment and Climate Change and Deputy Critic for Families Children and Social Development, Laurel Collins (Victoria) is already getting more air time on those leading issues (currently focused on the carbon tax issue and day care).

MPs in those portfolios will give the NDP more natural air time in the news cycle, as issues of public safety (crime in cities), national defence (boosting the NATO commitment and continued attention to Ukraine and the Middle East), food pricing (still a big hit for consumers), and health (struggling health-care system plus the work still to do in bringing pharmacare along).

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Federal NDP House Leader Peter Julian in Ottawa, April 2024. [web]

For pundits who continue to say that the NDP is not making any political gains from all their population-wide accomplishments (e.g. CERB, grocery rebate, dental plan, beginnings of pharmacare) are missing the mark.

Folks in their everyday lives who know (if reminded) that the NDP made those things possible through political pressure in the parliamentary system, will very much consider voting NDP in the next federal election.

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Laurel Collins, MP (Victoria) in the House of Commons in Feb 2024. [CPAC]

Carbon pricing wedge:

The carbon pricing issue seems to be the first evident distancing.

There has never been clear communication from the Liberals since 2015 about their carbon tax. Somehow it’s always been muddled as to the actual process… most Canadians are still not clear on the mechanism … including how the ‘climate rebate’ to low-income Canadians helps move along environmental improvements.

Now it’s much more clear that the Liberals’ carbon tax (which would have probably been more politically effective it it had been called a carbon incentive) is heavily tied to revenue concerns. The government would have a tough time covering the quarterly payout of climate tax rebates if it weren’t collecting funds to cover that massive outlay. If the Conservatives were to cancel the carbon tax then likely the rebates to low-income Canadians would disappear too.

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But Trudeau’s further comment today may indicate how much he really hasn’t separated climate policy from taxation:

“It’s not a handful of conservative politicians and premiers that are going to turn me away from continuing the fight against climate change,” he said, adding: “So I don’t entirely understand the position of the NDP and pulling back from affordability measures and from the fight against climate change.”

The NDP have indeed been championing the idea of putting a price on pollution, even campaigning on it in the 2019 election. 

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The Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society is based in the west shore of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

But it appears they want to see more improvement on efforts to reduce pollution and are willing to separate that policy direction from putting a price on pollution. This week, the NDP indicated that shift, saying carbon pricing is not the “be-all, end-all” and encouraging premiers to come up with new ideas to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

More strategy:

New Democrat MPs also backed a non-binding Conservative motion in the House of Commons demanding that Trudeau sit down with provincial and territorial leaders within five weeks to discuss the policy.

The NDP has not changed their policy, but today Singh wouldn’t say if he supports the federal carbon price.

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Island Social Trends reports news with socioeconomic insights and analysis. Independent news service on south Vancouver Island, BC. Read free online or get the biweekly PDF by email.


headshot, mary p brooke
Mary P Brooke, Editor & Publisher of Island Social Trends.

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke provides regional, provincial and national news political insights. Over the years, she has lived, worked and followed politics in Toronto, Regina, and Victoria.

Ms Brooke has been publishing a series of news publications on south Vancouver Island since 2008: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), West Shore Voice News (2014-2020) and now Island Social Trends (since 2020).

Mary Brooke reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery; she covered the COVID pandemic daily in BC during 2020, 2021 and into 2022.

In 2023 Ms Brooke was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation Award that recognizes a woman journalist who contributes to her community through journalism.

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