Could Singh use Trans Mountain as bargaining chip if NDP plays kingmaker? He’s not ruling it out

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh responds to questions during a news conference in Ottawa, on Thursday, October 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh appears to be leaving the door open to using cancellation of the Trans Mountain expansion project as a bargaining chip if his party ends up playing kingmaker in a Liberal minority government.

When asked by a reporter on Friday whether he would make cancellation of the controversial pipeline expansion a condition for his party to support a possible Liberal minority government, Singh said he has been and remains fundamentally opposed to the project, but did not explicitly commit to toppling the Liberals if the project continues to go ahead.

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“Yeah, so this is something I’ve been very clear on. I’m fully opposed to Trans Mountain. I’ve been opposed to it, I will continue to be opposed to it,” Singh said when asked.

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“One of our priorities was the environment and that’s a crucial part of our commitment to reducing our emissions, to stopping the Trans Mountain pipeline, to ending fossil fuel subsidies, so this is something we’re going to continue to fight for, absolutely.”

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When asked to clarify his position, Singh offered similar remarks.

“Yeah we’ve been fighting the pipeline before, we’re going to continue to fight it, we’re always going to fight it,” he said.

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All polls at this point suggest Canadians are poised to elect a minority government when they head to the polls on Monday.

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And because the tradition is that the incumbent government is given the first chance to attempt to form a minority government, Singh has faced repeated questions over recent days about what conditions he would set out if his party were in the position of propping up or toppling a Liberal minority government.

Singh has explicitly ruled out supporting a Conservative minority government.

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Global News reached out to the NDP directly asking to clarify Singh’s remarks.

One official with the party said Singh views the cancellation of the Trans Mountain project as a priority for himself and his party, and that will be the case whether the party is elected to power or operates in a kingmaker capacity.

“As for TMX, we’ve said we’re clearly opposed and would cancel the expansion,” that source said.

“Those are his priorities for any role Canadians give us. As government, opposition, in a minority or coalition, or in vote to vote.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has insisted the project will be built, and construction has since resumed.

His government bought the pipeline at a cost of $4.5 billion, not including the cost of actually expanding it, when its previous private sector owner abandoned plans to expand it after years of regulatory delays in gaining the approval needed to move forward.

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Total cost of building the expansion is expected to be more than $7.4 billion. 

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