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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP candidate for Edmonton Centre, Trisha Estabrooks kick off the NDP caucus retreat by knocking on doors in Edmonton on Jan. 22.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is making a pitch to Canadians that his party is a viable alternative to the Liberals or Conservatives when voters go to the ballot box in the next federal election.

Singh kicked off his party’s three-day caucus retreat in Edmonton Tuesday with the simple message that New Democrats can be trusted.

Speaking to media, Singh said his party has spent years building a track record in order to show Canadians that government is supposed to work for the people.

He took digs at his political opponents, calling the governing Liberals “out of touch” and saying “corporate-controlled Conservatives” will cut services.

Singh said his party has leveraged its power through its deal with the minority government to push through policies that he said have made life more affordable for families.

Many of the affordability measures the Liberals have brought in over the past year, including dental-care benefits for children in low-income households, one-time rental supplements for low-income tenants and a temporary doubling of the GST rebate, were NDP priorities.

Liberals have also taken credit for those initiatives, and as they plummet in the polls, they’ve been promising to address affordability with a slew of measures to try to bring down the cost of groceries, rent and housing.

But polling makes it clear it’s Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre who has most successfully tapped into Canadians’ frustration over the high cost of living.

The Tories have accused New Democrats in the past of having zero credibility because they continue to support the Liberals, whom they blame for the higher cost of living and high inflation.

The Liberals attribute affordability issues to global factors such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a post COVID-19 economy.

Singh says they could be doing much more. And the NDP would be in an even better position to make change if they were in government themselves.

“We want to show Canadians there is an option. There is an alternative. We’ll be there for you like we have in the past. We’ll continue to fight for you. You can trust us,” Singh said on Tuesday.

His pitch to Canadians came as his caucus was set to strategize over the next few days about how they can squeeze more out of the nearly two-year-old confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals.

The deal has NDP members of Parliament supporting the Liberals on key votes in the House of Commons, including on budgetary measures, until 2025 in exchange for movement on key priorities.

Jennifer Howard, chief of staff to Singh, said her party is already discussing its budget priorities with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“This coming budget has to be an opportunity to show Canadians that we get what they’re going through and that we’re gonna be there to fight for them and help them out,” Howard said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“And I think housing has to be the centrepiece of that.”

The New Democrats are also looking to see pharmacare legislation introduced in the House of Commons in the coming weeks.

The Liberals agreed to a March 1 deadline to make that happen – and the NDP has threatened to pull out of the agreement if it doesn’t.

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