The Current

Conservative's Lisa Raitt suggests NDP could support Tory minority government on a 'case-by-case' basis

Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt talks about the tone of the election campaign so far, whether the NDP may work with a Conservative minority government and her confidence that the abortion debate won't be reopened.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh ruled out working with government led by Andrew Scheer

Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt believes parties like the NDP would support a potential government led by Andrew Scheer on a 'case-by-case' basis. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
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Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt believes parties like the NDP would support a potential minority government led by Andrew Scheer on a "case-by-case" basis.

"I can't speak for the NDP, but to say it's a blanket no, when we could be bringing autism-related legislation into the House, I can't imagine [that]," said Raitt, the Conservative candidate for the Ontario riding of Milton.

On Tuesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told The Current: "I've only ruled out one party — I said I would not work with the Conservatives — so I've always been open to working with others."

But Raitt said that case-by-case support has "happened in the past, and he's also open in general."

Responding to Raitt's comments on Friday afternoon, Singh reiterated that his party would not support the Conservatives.

"We're not going to support in any way Mr. Scheer being put into the prime minister's seat. That's something we've ruled out entirely," he told supporters in Port Alberni, B.C.

On Tuesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he had ruled out working with the Conservatives. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The CBC Poll tracker puts all parties below the 33 per cent support, meaning that a minority government is highly likely.

On Wednesday, Scheer said "whichever party wins the most seats gets to form the government."

A CBC analysis of past elections shows that isn't true, but Raitt said the party intended to "stand firm on what we believe is to be true, which is if you come out ahead in the number of seats, you get the first crack."

The Current requested interviews with the leaders of all the federal parties this election. Raitt agreed to be interviewed by interim host Laura Lynch because Scheer was unavailable. 

Negativity on the doorstep

Speaking to As It Happens host Carol Off last week, Raitt said: "This is the nastiest campaign election I have ever seen. I have no problem saying that. And you get sick of it."

She reiterated to Lynch that "it hasn't been a great campaign." 

"I'm gauging that off of the reaction I'm getting on the doorstep … it's negativity that on both sides," she said, adding that there wasn't much discussion of party platforms.

"They don't like Justin Trudeau. They don't like Andrew Scheer — it's all about personality."

She said the feelings towards Scheer were because of Liberal efforts to link him to Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the Liberals will decriminalize all drugs. 1:01

Lynch asked Raitt if the Conservatives had contributed to a negative campaign through some of their talking points — specifically claims on pamphlets that if re-elected, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau would legalize hard drugs, and that the Liberals intend to introduce a capital gains tax of up to 50 per cent on the sale of someone's home.

"Why is it negative to talk about policy pieces that … the former government has either put in their policy suggestions in paper, in ink or what the prime minister has said in a national televised debate?" she said.

Referring to Trudeau as "the former prime minister," Raitt said that when asked about decriminalization of hard drugs during the Oct. 2 TVA debate, he did not rule it out.

"I took that, as a mother of two sons, to say that was something that is in their universe of possibility," she told Lynch.

Speaking to reporters after the debate, Trudeau said he has no interest in going beyond what his government did in legalizing recreational marijuana use. The Liberals have since reiterated that position.

Raitt also argued the capital gains tax was proposed in an internal Liberal document from fall 2018, submitted as advice for drafting the party's election platform.

That makes it "fair game to talk about," Raitt said.

A CBC factcheck found no evidence of plans for the tax, and that the Conservatives' claim was false.

The Liberals have also faced questions about whether their campaign is spreading misinformation.

After accusing the Conservatives of spreading disinformation about the his drug policy, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is asked if his party is doing the same regarding the Conservatives and assault rifles. 1:33

'100 per cent comfortable' abortion debate won't be reopened

Suggestions that Scheer would reopen the issue of abortion don't amount to much more than "conspiracy theories," Raitt said.

The anti-abortion organization RightNow is endorsing more than 50 Conservative candidates, who the group believes will try to bring forward legislation on abortion.

But Raitt said neither her name nor Scheer's were on that list of 50.

"They have every right as a parliamentarian to bring forward legislation, but it stops with the government," said Raitt, who described herself as pro-choice.

"A government that is led by Andrew Scheer is not going to reopen this issue," she said, adding that she felt "100 per cent comfortable" with his reassurances.

"In terms of anybody trying to weave conspiracy theories about him, he is not on the list."


Written by Padraig Moran, with files from CBC News. Produced by Max Paris.

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