The NDP is prepared to withhold its votes in Parliament and wants the minority government to demonstrate it is interested in co-operation, Leader Jagmeet Singh said on Thursday.
Mr. Singh, whose party won 25 seats in the Sept. 20 election, met with his caucus on Wednesday and held a news conference on Thursday to lay out party priorities, including the fight against climate change, pushing for more health care spending and ensuring Canadians have paid sick leave during the pandemic. The NDP has also called for a national vaccination passport.
In Parliament, the government will once again have to work in partnership with other parties to pass legislation. But Mr. Singh said the Liberals have not yet sent a signal that they want to negotiate or talk.
The NDP Leader said he is not concerned about this, because it is clear where his party stands.
“We are prepared to withhold our votes,” Mr. Singh said. “That’s why we are calling on the government to show they’re interested in working together.”
The NDP will look at each piece of legislation to determine whether it will support it. Without the votes of the NDP, the Liberal government would need backing from the other parties to get its bills passed, as it did in the previous Parliament.
The NDP also wants an extension of emergency support programs to help businesses and individuals cope with the pandemic. The government has promised a narrow extension of benefits for businesses in the tourism sector, but on Wednesday it said it was exploring options.
Mr. Singh said the pandemic is still wreaking havoc in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and it would be “irresponsible and wrong” to cut people off from help. The situation could intensify even more, he added.
“Absolutely we want to see a broad continuing of support,” he said. “We want to see those supports continue, and that would be another sign that the Liberal government is interested in working with us.”
On Wednesday, Alexandre Boulerice, the NDP’s deputy leader and sole Quebec MP, conceded his party had some problems getting out the vote, but said that would be discussed. He also said the NDP was well placed to win additional seats in Quebec in the next election.
Mr. Singh said on Thursday that he is very proud of the campaign his party ran and how it used the opportunity to connect with Canadians who felt as if they “didn’t matter.”
“We talked to health care workers who were feeling left behind,” he said. “We talked to Indigenous communities and lifted up voices of people who are saying, ‘We have been ignored by the federal government.’”
Mr. Singh did say, however, that he wished more New Democrats had been elected and that some ridings missed out on incredible people.
“I’m certainly disappointed by that,” he said.
The NDP has said that veteran strategist Bob Dewar will conduct a review of how the campaign worked.
“There’s a team of folks that will be involved in that, and we’ll share those details with our caucus once we obtain the results,” Mr. Singh said.
The review is expected to be complete by the end of the year, NDP director of communications Mélanie Richer said on Thursday.
The party also announced key roles for the coming session, including NDP MP Jenny Kwan as caucus chair and newly elected MP Blake Desjarlais as deputy caucus chair.
Mr. Singh said in a statement that he will rely on these members for important leadership to deliver for Canadians in the minority Parliament.
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