Scheer says Canada more divided than ever, as NDP, Bloc hold cards close
REGINA -- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the onus is on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make Canada's new minority government function on behalf of a country that he says is more divided than ever.
Scheer says he stressed to Trudeau in a telephone call that Monday's election resulted in a stronger Bloc Quebecois and no Liberal seats in Canada's fossil-fuel-producing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Scheer also noted that more Canadians supported his party than any other because the Conservatives won the popular vote, though that didn't translate into victories at the riding level.
The Liberals won 157 seats to the Conservatives' 122. The Liberals won two-thirds of the seats in Ontario and dominated the key suburban battleground around Toronto named after its 905 area code. But the Liberals were shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
"It's clear, based on the results last night, when you have two entire provinces completely reject the approach of this Liberal government, and when you look at how Justin Trudeau has attacked our energy sector, has ignored the concerns of Alberta and Saskatchewan and has demonized premiers who disagree with him, that the results last night speak for themselves," Scheer said Tuesday morning in Regina.
"The fact that our country is more divided than ever is directly a result of Justin Trudeau's approach over the last four years."
The New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois held their cards close and did not discuss any negotiating points they plan to raise with the Trudeau government as the Liberals look for common ground on which to advance legislation.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Tuesday he won't negotiate an arrangement with the Trudeau government in public. His party won 24 seats, a worse showing than the 44 it won in 2015, and it was nearly wiped out in Quebec where it clung to just one.
But Singh said he will fight for the objectives he laid out in the federal election campaign, including helping students, moving ahead with publicly funded pharmacare and fighting climate change.
"I am hoping that Mr. Trudeau respects the fact there's a minority government now which means we've got to work together," Singh said in Burnaby, B.C.
With Liberals just 13 seats shy of a majority, the fourth-place NDP still holds sway, alongside the resurrected Bloc Quebecois that will return to Ottawa with 32 seats.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said it's not his job to make the new Parliament work, and that his guiding priority will be promoting Quebec interests.
He said he will not drive a sovereignty agenda, saying the timing and tempo of any moves toward independence will be dictated by the Quebec people.
"I expect us to have quite a good leverage," said Blanchet.
Trudeau showed up at a Metro station in his Montreal riding of Papineau Tuesday to thank his constituents for re-electing him as an MP.
Only a few hours after he left the stage at Liberal party election headquarters in Montreal, Trudeau stood at the top of the station's escalators to shake hands with commuters as they congratulated him on his electoral success and posing for photos when asked.
"We see him on TV all the time," one boy was heard saying to another as they discussed whether to join other commuters waiting for a moment with Trudeau at the Jarry Metro station.
Trudeau made a similar appearance the morning after the Liberals won the 2015 election, surprising commuters in Montreal who were not expecting to see the new prime minister on their way to school or work.
Unlike Scheer, Singh and Blanchet, Trudeau was not scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday.
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Oct. 22.