Idlout shows NDP is at the grown-ups’ table

Liberal-NDP deal should be an uncomfortable arrangement for the sudden political bedfellows

Nunavut’s NDP MP Lori Idlout (bottom right) took part in a government funding announcement last Friday with Liberal Prime Mininster Justin Trudeau (bottom left), Liberal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal (top right), Premier P.J. Akeeagok and Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell (both top left). (Screenshot courtesy of the City of Iqaluit/Facebook)

By Corey Larocque

Lori Idlout got herself a seat at the grown-ups’ table, but the Nunavut MP still owes an explanation for her — and the NDP’s — change of heart on Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.

Idlout, a rookie New Democrat elected six months ago, was front and centre April 1 when the prime minister announced $214 million to improve Iqaluit’s municipal water system.

Trudeau led the virtual show from Ottawa, but the announcement included heavyweights Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal and Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok. Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell was present, too.

Typically, opposition MPs aren’t included in government funding announcements.

On March 4, when Liberal housing minister Ahmed Hussen announced $45 million to build 101 housing units in Nunavut, it was just him, Vandal and Nunavut housing minister Lorne Kusugak.

A week later, when Vandal announced $2 million for seven projects in the territory, including a soup kitchen in Taloyoak and a ball diamond in Kugluktuk, it was all him.

Liberal ministers made a string of announcements last August — days before Trudeau plunged the country into a snap summer election campaign. Cabinet ministers Vandal, Hussen and Catherine McKenna jetted around Nunavut, sprinkling public money around.

At the time MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, also a member of the NDP caucus, was nowhere to be seen.

So, what’s changed?

The Liberals and NDP jumped into bed together in March, after working out a deal that will see the NDP prop up the Liberals in the House of Commons until 2025.

Idlout’s inclusion in the April 1 announcement is a sign of the price Trudeau’s Liberals will have to pay for NDP support. Liberals will be sharing the limelight with New Democrats.

The new Liberal-NDP partnership should be uncomfortable for both sides. But it should be especially awkward for Idlout, who has roundly criticized Trudeau’s Liberals for a track record of broken promises.

Nunatsiaq News has quoted Idlout at least five times since last summer, railing against the Liberal government for having broken its promises since 2015.

Now that the NDP has a seat at the table, it’s going to be impossible for her to keep singing from the “broken promises” song sheet. New Democrats now either have to acknowledge the Liberal government is making good on promises, or acknowledge that Liberal failures are their failures too.

Idlout still owes constituents an explanation for her change of heart. Nunavummiut did not vote for the Liberal agenda last September. Two-thirds voted NDP or Conservative. However, now they have an NDP representative helping deliver the Liberal agenda.

When Nunatsiaq News asked Idlout on the day Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced the partnership to explain her change of heart, her party’s communications department said Nunavut’s MP “won’t be able to do this today.”

Instead, the party’s communications shop offered a prepared statement hailing the Liberal-NDP deal as a boon to people struggling with the cost of living and lack of housing. Liberals need the NDP’s help because “left to their own devices, the Liberals are getting us nowhere.”

The prepared statement did not address why an MP who bashed the government’s record of broken promises suddenly gave that same government a longer leash.

The NDP is now in the game. But what are New Democrats going to do with their new-found clout? How will they beat the “Liberal broken promises” drum when they’re now associated with the government?

There’s no hurry for Idlout and other New Democrats to answer. They’ve got four more years to think it over.


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(35) Comments:

  1. Posted by Forever Amazed on

    “There’s no hurry for Idlout and other New Democrats to answer. They’ve got four more years to think it over.”

    This is a disaster for Canada.

    • Posted by Not a disaster at all on

      Are you kidding me? Did you see yesterday’s budget? Money for housing, money for dental care for kids. More money for daycare infrastructure. Whether you want to admit it or not, this arrangement has already borne fruit for Canadians. I’m no fan of the Liberals, and even I have to admit that they are doing some good work.

      And to the journalist who wrote this article, this is exactly how minority governments get things done. There’s nothing unusual about being critical of a government of the day and still trying to work with them to advance good policies. It’s disappointing (and a bit lazy) to feign outrage and try and make a story where there really isn’t one.

      • Posted by articrick on

        Anything this JT liberal govt has done is a disaster, maybe you have not been following news?

        • Posted by Clark on

          This article is a joke, Nunatsiaq news has gone down hill quite a bit, feom allowing some questionable comments to now articles like this, the Jerry Springer news of the North.

          • Posted by Editorials on

            It’s an editorial. Much like the editorial of many many other news papers. Get off the mayors bandwagon.

            • Posted by Not Convincing on

              It is an opinion piece by the editor, as you say. There’s nothing wrong with that and to be honest very few editorials written in the last year or more have really stood out as interesting. The best was from Oct. 20th and is undoubtedly the one that sticks in the side of Iqaluit city council.

              This one, by contrast, is not that well argued and as pointed out below works to the manufacture of ‘outrage.’

              Yet for many people, non-NDP voters included, there is nothing glaringly wrong with this arrangement. If you want to argue there is, go for it, but make the case compelling.

              Nothing written here achieves that. Worse, the argument falls flat in a way that makes you wonder if the editor even believes what he is writing. Which would be better, I suppose, than saying he did.

  2. Posted by p Juneau on

    This is a horribly worded piece. O.S. I think we should let another set of eyes view the articles before the Editorial manager goes to print. Also the not so subtle language used is is quite revealing if the editorial staff’s political leanings. Bedfellows’ ‘Big table’, come on now Corey. Also who captioned this headline?

    • Posted by Raised Eyebrows on

      I was totally thinking the same as I was reading through this… a lot of raised eyebrows and ‘whow this guy must be writing this at 4 am and has not slept in days’. If this was written with a few less euphemisms and a little more impartialness then it would at least be on the road to something a bit better.

  3. Posted by Unacceptable!!! on

    I voiced my direct opposition to this backroom deal made between the Liberals and NDP but it fell on deaf ears. Like many Nunavummiut, I didn’t vote for a Liberal government nor do I want a Liberal government.

    I’m fed up with MP’s that have no spine! They’re directed by opinion poles & don’t represent the people, respect the people, or fight for the rights of people! They cower to an arrogant, selfish, liberal clown. I’m tired of the double standards, do as I say and not as I do. Serious electoral reform is needed. The NDP party needs to eliminate this childish behavior and be the opposition party they were elected to be!

    Canadian citizens, pay their salaries therefore, we deserve a better return on our investment! You can be assured that Canadians will not quickly forget this disloyalty!

  4. Posted by I miss Jim on

    You too have a seat at the grown-up table and this isn’t your campus paper Mr.Larocque.

    Your attempt to come off edgy and clever reads like awkwardly manufactured outrage.

    I don’t love Lori as my MP but she has already demonstrated a greater capacity to garner support for Nunavut than her predecessor did.

  5. Posted by No Moniker on

    If I was a Liberal strategist it would not be hard to see the advantage of having Lori sit in on Vandal’s announcement that Baffinland expansion plans have been approved.

    What a PR coup for the Liberals. After all, it’s tit for tat, Lori… ‘quid pro quo’ ! This is how it works at the “grown up’s table.” You want to be at the grown up’s table, right?

    I’m not a Liberal, but have to admit that would be deliciously clever stuff.

    Of course, I might just be imagining things. Let’s see what happens.

  6. Posted by Ever Sick on

    I’m taking bets on when Lori crosses the floor.

    Nunavut NDP better start looking for a new candidate…

  7. Posted by Your ignorance is showing on

    What a garbage article with an even worse title! “Grown-ups table”??? What the heck is wrong with this news outlet. Someone needs to go work at The Sun or south of the border

    • Posted by Lol on

      It’s an editorial!! They are meant to be though provoking. Do people have a hard time understanding or just think anything they don’t agree with is garbage.. cough cough ahem kenny bell

      • Posted by Not KB on

        KB has nothing to do with this

        • Posted by How do you know ? on

          How do you know?

  8. Posted by Very happy for Lori on

    I voted for the NDP for the first time ever and will vote for them again. The editor seems to have no memory of the best outcome of the last NDP Liberal bargain which led to the birth of our country’s Medicare system. I look for more progressive movement and I am not concerned with my MP working with a government, that is her job for the benefit of us.

    The editor appears to have missed the point, she is still voicing our concerns and not strapped to the liberal party, but she has more kick to her positions as it is a coalition.

  9. Posted by How do you like me now. on

    Nunavuts MP is there for all of Nunavumiut. The Liberal government making an agreement to work with the NDP is the best possible thing Nunavut could ever get. The Liberals have their agenda and Idlout can push for Nunavuts best interest with much better results. Nunavut needs more then the Liberal government would ever do if they were a majority. Sure is nice to see the Influence Idlout has been part of for Nunavut. Look forward to hearing what more can be gained for Nunavut as our MPs position is strengthened.

  10. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I have to laugh at the line, “Two-thirds voted NDP or Conservative. ” and with three major parties it also means – Two-thirds voted NDP or Liberal, so it may make sense that the NDP supports the Liberal minority government.
    Let’s be realistic here, Canadian politics can be cooperative and all MPs and all parties should vote for legislation which helps the majority of Canadians. Or we can go the U.S. route and swing from Far Right to Right of Centre and then maybe to Facism. There really is no Left in U.S. politics as proven by Bernie being unable to even get the nomination. (The reason is pretty simple, there is too much money and corruption involved in U.S. politics).
    And if I am honest, Canadian governments operate better when they are in a minority position. They are less arrogant, especially into their second or third terms, unlike majority governments. And unlike majority governments who cater to special interests and friends, more gets done for the average Canadian.
    True that we are going through an especially hard time right now most of the way through a life altering pandemic, but we will get through it, and probably in better shape than most countries.

    • Posted by Middle age trapper on

      I agree, the US is the worst example to follow on many levels, anything to do with the left or socialism they start screaming communists, they through words out like that without understanding the differences.
      Controlled so much by big corporations and the wealthy, they even profit from healthcare, if you can’t pay for your operation in the states you don’t get the healthcare service. It’s just so crazy with greed and the worst examples to follow.

  11. Posted by Observer on

    Welcome to Western Democracy, as practiced since Ancient Greece. You hold your nose and you compromise.

    The alternatives are toxic dysfunction, like the US Congress, rubber-stamping a dictatorship, like Russia and China, or anarchy. As Winston Churchill said, “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.”

  12. Posted by CSM on

    Governments have there work cut out for them. Black Rock Inc. a company worth anout that of the GDP of Germany and Japan combined has gone into the realestate market with monopoly in mind. Why is it that housing becoming unaffordable we ask?

  13. Posted by Editorial = Opinion on

    An editorial article is an opinion piece. Whether you agree or disagree is irrelevent. The purpose of an editorial is to spark discussion and debate around the subject. Attacking Nunatsiaq or it’s staff is childish and disrespectful which is one of the biggest problems in this country, over the last few years, which has been getting worse.

    • Posted by Binky The Doormat on

      At risk of being reductive I see two broad categories of criticism type that appear regularly in the NN comments: reflective criticism and reflexive criticism.

      Most regular commentators have done bits of both, though to varying degrees.

      Much of the criticism in this piece comes off as reflexive; as if designed to score blows in a grudge.

      I don’t see a badly written article here. The wording might be provocative (only slightly, honestly), but its reasonable and interesting enough.

      • Posted by Mayor Quimby on

        Dude, the childish nonsense in the comments is coming from a few seats at city hall. Yes, seriously

        • Posted by Not a free pass on

          Writing an editorial doesn’t make you immune to criticism. You can’t hide being unprofessional, using offensive language, more than obviously snarky and cynical commentary behind it being an editorial. News outlets range on a spectrum from left to right, from credible to those that cannot be taken seriously. Same goes with reporters. Tone, language, nuance, respect, all play into that. If this reporter and the article didn’t make the cut on those things, yes, it will be criticized. Either that or people will simply stop taking this newspaper seriously and will completely disregard it, which I am sure a lot have done already.

          • Posted by Mayor Quimby on

            “News outlets range on a spectrum from left to right, from credible to those that cannot be taken seriously.”

            Talk about being reductive, trying to box all the ‘news’ into a binary like this is simplistic. That said I agree that some outlets do find their niche in these slots, I’m not sure where Nunatsiaq lands in that universe, but not all outlets are so easily defined.

            I would never suggest that this piece should not be criticized, but much (not all) of the criticisms above are troll level, vindictive stuff.

            Of course, people have the right to say whatever, but as you point out “tone, language, nuance, respect” can say a lot about the source and motivations of these–which here screams ‘not serious’ (again, not all these criticisms are like that).

            • Posted by Not what I said on

              You should look up “range” and “spectrum” and you will see that it is quite the opposite of “binary” and simplistic.

              • Posted by Mayor Quimby on

                This is a fair point, and I understand and mostly agree with your original observations.

                The only thing I would push back on is the left-right thing, because it is linear and unidimensional it naturally constrains and oversimplifies the “range” of our concepts, and our discourse. Granted, this doesn’t change the ‘gist’ of your point.

                That is all.

  14. Posted by Beleaver on

    Grown ups table? I guess the rest are adolescents.

  15. Posted by Pork Pie on

    Corey, this flummoxed insistence that “Idlout still owes constituents an explanation for her change of heart” seems odd.

    Why assume she has had a change of heart at all?

    The NDP decision to join the Liberals in a confidence and supply agreement was not hers to make. Even so, nothing about it makes the NDP “viola!” Liberals! Yikes!

    Plainly it’s a quid pro-quo. You support us anytime there is a confidence vote, and we will offer priority to your concerns. All this is to the benefit of the NDP cause, until it isn’t, and if it isn’t the NDP can back out any time they want.

    Let’s face it, this has been the longstanding arrangement between the two parties all along. This just brings what was in the proverbial closet out it into the open. Even better, it is a guarantee to address and incorporate NDP concerns at the policy table, as you said.

    I don’t see the screaming betrayal you hint toward when you say “Nunavummiut did not vote for the Liberal agenda last September.”

    True, Nunavummiut did not, but our electoral system yielded that result for Canadians and Nunavummiut alike and we as stuck with the result as the bluest ridings in Alberta.

    From a pragmatic position this is a sensible move for the NDP that should yield more for the party and for Nunavut than the arrangement of quiet nods it replaces.

    Does anyone else wonder if the commitment of $845 million toward housing suggests that might be true?

  16. Posted by Poor guy on

    Love the slight dig at mayor bell by not including the poor man child as a heavy weight. Poor guy got his feeling hurt by nunatsiaq new. Spends all his time reading it but thinks it a horrible thing.

  17. Posted by Canadian guy. on

    Perhaps Nunavut is final getting somewhere , more funding , more agreement. What’s bad about it ? I think it’s normal for an MP to criticize the pm when not a whole lot has been happening for the territory so why would idlout have any concern ? just another day “at the big kid table” or whatever they said lmao.

  18. Posted by Colonial on

    Nunatsiaq readers don’t even know what an editorial is. I encourage Nunatsiaq to continue with them because people clearly need a shakeup from their bubbled lives where they think everyone agrees with them if this is the type of reaction a realatively toned editorial will get.

    • Posted by Deeper Dives on

      We need more commentary in general. Many of the stories here are reported a bit superficially, lacking much depth or deeper context. It would be nice to see some writing by those with a greater understanding of nuances beneath the issues.

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