Must-see QP: Why the NDP can’t win on the minimum wage

Your daily dose of political theatre

Adrian Wyld/CP

Adrian Wyld/CP

Maclean’s is your home for the daily political theatre that is question period. If you’ve never watched, check out our primer. Today, QP runs from 2:15 p.m. until just past 3. We livestream and liveblog all the action, and recap the clip you can’t miss.

Where were we?
Yesterday’s return of the politicians brought with it the requisite, interminable back-to-school metaphors that flood parliamentary coverage each autumn. The opposition had much to pursue after so many months away from the Commons. New Democrats pushed hard on military deployments in Iraq, which they say merits a parliamentary vote that Harper promised when he was first elected; and a federal minimum wage, which they say would lift poor Canadians out of poverty. Liberals duelled with the government on traditionally Tory-friendly territory, particularly according to party spin: jobs and the economy. Toronto’s newest MP, the former city councillor and TV journalist Adam Vaughan, asked a question we thought was yesterday’s must-see moment. Vaughan juxtaposed the government’s spending on reducing violence against Aboriginal women with its gleeful spending on locating the lost Franklin Expedition. Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch lectured him with intellectually dishonest panache about the opposition’s role in Parliament.

What happened?

New Democrats have said, since their emergence as an Official Opposition, that they intend to prove their competence as administrators of the public purse. Tom Mulcair made that pledge a pillar of his successful run for the party leadership. Nobody can win a federal election if they can’t convince voters they know what they’re doing in all matters economic. This week, the NDP has staked out ground as Parliament’s biggest promoters of a minimum wage—$15—that would apply to all federally regulated workplaces. The Tories oppose the measure, and New Democrats are asking why. These are the economic battles the ambitious New Democrats hope to win.

Chris Charlton, the NDP MP from traditionally pro-labour Hamilton, Ont., led the charge in Question Period. She demanded an answer on minimum wages. Enter Jason Kenney, the minister of employment and social development who stands between the NDP and political triumph. Kenney walked the NDP in front of a figurative mirror, explained that provincial New Democratic governments never propose minimum wages as high as their federal cousins, and concluded that Tories trust provinces to set minimum rates that apply to federally regulated workers across Canada. Rare that a Conservative would compliment anyone who’s not a Conservative—or be allowed to do so, even if they so desired. Rarer still that a Conservative would half-praise a New Democrat anywhere. But Kenney’s admission that some social democrats get it right muted an opposition NDP that needs to start winning economic fights, and loudly so, if it hopes to gain momentum in an election year.


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Must-see QP: Why the NDP can’t win on the minimum wage

  1. These political jabs the cons make at Trudeau during the members statements and public announcements should be considered as politicking on the taxpayers expense. This is why I get turned away from QP, and that goes for any party. Stop politicking on our tax dollars.

  2. Trudeau is moving away from asking questions from the lectern a bit more today, starting to show signs of improvement.

    • Baby Steps for Trudeau.

      Once he figures out where he’s supposed to stand, then he’ll work on actually coming up with something intelligent to say. Until then…just keep putting those little foot shaped stickies on the carpet in front of his seat. Seems to work so far.

      • Trudeau doesn’t even need to be there anyway, he gets his oxygen outside the house, crisscrossing the country talking and surrounding himself around real Canadians, and not ornaments planted around him either like your guy Harper. Trudeau talks to people and listens, He doesn’t talk at them or use the old adage ‘ its my way or the highway attitude ‘.

        • If trudeau doesn’t even need to be there, then why does he want the big boys seat?

          Trudeau is uncomfortable in Parliament because he realizes how foolish he looks asking questions he doesn’t really understand.

          Trudeau doesn’t like people watching CPAC and seeing how truly unqualified he is to be an MP, let alone a PM.

  3. Cant help but notice today, only two parties fighting over who had the biggest scandal, the dippers and the cons.

  4. IF Canadians are interested in how a $15./hr minimum wage would work for the country they have only to block off the baying conservative think tanks and economist and politicians ‘trickle down’ ‘trickle down’ trickle down’ chorus and look at Australia’s Fair Wage Panel ‘trickle up’ theory.
    IF Canadians are not prepared to mandate the $15./hr minimum, maybe they would entertain removing the taxes paid by everyone who makes less than $30,000/year as a ‘working bonus’ subsidy and watch the ‘trickle up’ theory in practice for once. Trickle down has not worked in 20 years and will not start working any time soon.

    • Dianne,

      You will note that the only people braying for a $15 minimum wage are those who either make much more than that,or who do not pay wages to anyone themselves.

      I won’t go into an economics lesson for you, as clearly, you wouldn’t understand it no matter how much I dumbed it down for you.

      Mandating a minimum wage has always ended up with the same result.

      Unemployment rises….and so do prices. It hurts everyone in the end.

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