Hamilton·Hamilton Votes

With a Liberal minority, Hamilton's NDP MPs get more bargaining power

Hamilton has a history of electing MPs who aren't part of the ruling federal party. But a Liberal minority means those on the other side might carry some more heft this time.
New Hamilton Centre MP Matthew Green, his wife Jade Jarvis and their son Langston, on stage with retiring MP for the riding, Dave Christopherson. (Christine Rankin)

Hamilton has a history of electing MPs who aren't part of the ruling federal party. But a Liberal minority means those on the other side might carry some more heft this time.

With a Liberal minority, the party will likely have to work with the NDP to pass bills and get its ideas through, says Scott Duvall, elected Monday to a second term as a Hamilton Mountain NDP MP. Matthew Green was also elected as a new NDP MP for Hamilton Centre.

If the Liberals end up working with the NDP, it means four of the five Hamilton MPs will have some kind of voice in trying to influence decisions.

When it comes to the Liberals negotiating with another party, "it's going to be between the Bloc (Quebecois) and us," Duvall said. And the NDP are a more natural ally.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said Monday evening that a Liberal minority is good for Hamilton.

The Trudeau Liberals provided "more flexible funding than any government previously," he said. But a minority government will be more accountable too.

"That minority government, in many respects, is a better opportunity for the country as a whole," he said. It will "two parties having to work together. That's not necessarily a bad thing."

A retired steelworker, Duvall plans to introduce a private member's bill to get pensioners put at the top of creditors lists when a company goes bankrupt. He tried it last term, but it died after first reading. Now such efforts can be used as tools for negotiating with the ruling Liberals.

"If I'm still pensions critic, it's one of the first things I'm doing," Duvall said early Tuesday. 

"I'm kind of disappointed that we're down a number of seats," he said. "But if you look at the country as a whole, I really think we can go forward and be progressive and make things happen."

Larry Di Ianni, a former Hamilton mayor, agrees that the minority government gives some muscle to Hamilton's non-Liberal members.

"The Liberals will need the NDP to shore up their support," he said. "They will be part of not a formal coalition, but part of the functional government that will keep this parliament going for however long it is."

Hamilton elected MPs from three major parties Monday. Former mayor Bob Bratina was reelected as a Liberal MP for a second term in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, continuing Bratina's record of never losing an election. Liberal Filomena Tassi, who served as Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's minister of seniors, was also handily reelected in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. Conservative David Sweet was more narrowly reelected in Flamborough-Glanbrook.

Tassi and Burlington's Karina Gould were both cabinet ministers, so there is already a tradition of local representation in the Trudeau cabinet.

Green maintained the NDP's hold on Hamilton Centre. The man who has represented it since 2003, Dave Christopherson, says Green will have an impact for the city.

"He reflects the values and the priorities of the people that live here," Christopherson said. "That's why he won...that's what he's all about. And you see it in his actions and his voting, and I predict that Matthew Green is going to become very well known in Canada in a very short period of time in a very positive way. 

The city distributed a list of priorities to federal parties last month.

Those priorities include more affordable housing, since Hamilton's waiting list for social housing sits at more than 6,700 households. The city needs nearly 80,000 in new housing units over the next 20 years, the city says, or more than 3,000 units per year.

Electors in Hamilton's five ridings voted in two NDP, two Liberal and one Conservative MP. (CBC/Elections Canada)

The city also needs about $300 million to finish a 10-year local transit strategy to improve HSR service. It would also like new funding tools for transit and infrastructure.

The city does get about $32.6 million per year in federal gas tax money, although it only spends $3 million on transit. The rest will go to roads and bridges. Several other cities spend all or most of their gas tax on transit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She often tweets about Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

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