OTTAWA — New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh took a direct swipe at Andrew Scheer Wednesday, claiming last week’s election results show you can’t be both a social conservative and prime minister.
The decision to have an abortion is “between a person and their health care provider and no one else has any business being involved in that,” the NDP leader told reporters. Singh criticized the Conservative leader’s unclear views on same-sex marriage for being out of touch with a majority of Canadians who support LGBTQ rights.
“You cannot have Mr. Scheer’s beliefs and be the prime minister of Canada. It’s pretty clear,” Singh said.
Watch: Scheer says it’s possible to hold socially conservative views and be prime minister. Story continues below video.
The NDP leader made the comment following his party’s first post-election caucus meeting. Singh returned to the Hill with a smaller team of 24 MPs, including himself, knocked down from the 39 seats the party had in the last parliament.
Singh said he’s content with the campaign, but isn’t pleased by the results. “I’m not going to be satisfied until we form a New Democratic government.”
Now that the Liberals lost their majority, the NDP leader said his party has clout with the new minority government. “If Mr. Trudeau wants to deliver something that’s national and that’s progressive, he needs to work with us.”
He said his party’s first act in the new Parliament will be to introduce a bill to create a universal single-payer pharmacare system. Another focus will be on pressuring the federal government to drop its decision to appeal a recent Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that ordered billions in compensation to First Nations families split apart by an under-funded child welfare system.
Despite his party’s losses, particularly in Quebec, Singh isn’t facing the same volume of questions about the fate of his leadership compared to Scheer.
Some columnists have suggested that Scheer’s social conservative values was one factor that hurt the party’s chances of winning seats in vote-rich Quebec. Scheer repeatedly pledged that despite his own personal beliefs, he would defend the rights of all Canadians as prime minister.
After his re-election as Opposition leader, Scheer told The Canadian Press that it’s possible for someone to hold socially conservative values and be prime minister.
“I believe you can have both of those positions: you can have a personal view and you can acknowledge that in Canada, the prime minister does not impose a particular viewpoint on Canadians,” he said.
The Conservative leader is holding meetings with party members in Ottawa this week to conduct a campaign post-mortem.
Conservatives increased their seat count from 95 to 121, but fell short of enough to have a crack at forming government — results that trigger a review of Scheer’s leadership in the new year.