Lorne Gunter: Does the federal NDP have any relevance now?

With today’s Liberals stealing every lefty policy in the book, the Trudeau government’s utter disdain for ethics is one of the NDP’s only selling points — and they just voted that away

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What do we need an NDP for? I mean it.

At the moment, the New Democrats are acting like flunkies for the Liberals. They are doing the political equivalent of holding the Liberals’ handbags, fetching them coffee and making sure their dry cleaning is picked up and their shoes polished.

I don’t really fault the NDP for voting with the Liberals to approve last month’s throne speech.

To be sure, the throne speech was awful. When it comes to expensive social and environmental schemes, the Libs were acting like hackers who just got hold of the credit card of everyone in the country and decided to add every bauble to their wish list.

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The speech was more than 6,000 words of fluff and shiny objects – extremely expensive fluff and shiny objects – but it wasn’t a budget or a controversial piece of legislation.

It wasn’t even yet another Liberal ethics scandal.

The NDP can hardly be criticized, then, for not wanting to foist an election on Canadians less than a year after the last one just over a throne speech.

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But voting with the Liberals to end Parliamentary investigation of the WE Charities was deplorable. And it had nothing to do with an election.

I don’t know how Charlie Angus stomached that one.

Angus is the NDP MP for the vast northern Ontario riding of Timmins-James Bay. He is also his party’s ethics critic.

From the earliest days of the WE scandal, Angus did as much as any MP to expose the depths of the Trudeau family’s connections with WE.

How could he possibly have been okay with his party helping the Liberals pull the drapes over the WE scandal?

The New Democrats’ capitulation in every Liberal action is merely handing the next election to the Grits.

If the federal New Democrats and their leader Jagmeet Singh keep playing buddy-buddy with the Trudeau Liberals, voters will soon begin asking what the point is of keeping the NDP around if every time they vote NDP they just end up with Liberal policies anyway.

If the NDP does not differ from the Liberals in at least a few meaningful ways, then a lot of NDP supporters will just decide to vote directly for Justin Trudeau’s party instead.

We’ve seen this before, under Justin Trudeau’s father.

Between 1972 and 1974, the Liberal minority government of Pierre Trudeau was similarly propped up by the NDP under David Lewis.

Then, too, the Liberals became even more left-wing than the NDP.

The NDP got real cozy with the Liberals on limiting foreign investment, expanding federal intrusion in provincial jurisdictions such as health and welfare, and raising taxes and adding regulations.

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When rampant inflation created an economic crisis, the Liberals introduced a budget they knew the NDP would never support.

The NDP forced an election in the middle of the crisis. The Liberals convinced voters the election was the NDP’s fault and voters rewarded the Liberals with a majority and punished the NDP by slashing their caucus in half.

All of which makes the current NDP move to help the Liberals shutter the WE scandal even more puzzling.

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With today’s Liberals stealing every lefty policy in the book, the Trudeau government’s utter disdain for ethics is one of the NDP’s only selling points – and they just voted that away.

Surprisingly, the crumbling of Canada’s political left is also bad news for Conservatives.

With the Liberals consuming lots of air on the left of the spectrum, that leaves the Tories some room to grow towards the middle.

But Conservatives only win in Canada when there is vote-splitting on the left.

And with the NDP terrier wagging along behind the Liberal big dog, there’s not much chance of that.

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