Jagmeet Singh left the door open on Tuesday to a more substantive working arrangement with the Liberal government, but made it clear that for now his party plans to approach legislation in the House of Commons on a vote-by-vote basis.
Mr. Singh said his party is “open” and there is “not a closure” on the Liberal government’s part in terms of working together.
Much like in the previous Parliament, the Liberals will need the support of other parties to ensure their legislation can pass and that Canadians are not plunged into another election.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals did not achieve their sought-after majority mandate in the Sept. 20 vote, ending up with another minority government. In the previous Parliament, the Liberals also relied on co-operation with other parties to pass legislation, such as on emergency benefits for people and businesses affected by the pandemic.
Speaking to reporters after a two-day caucus meeting, Mr. Singh firmly struck down the idea that the Liberals and NDP have agreed on a coalition of any kind, which Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole accused them of doing in recent days.
The NDP Leader said his party has no agreement with the Liberals. He said, however, if the government “wants to do more,” he is “willing to hear them,” while making it clear no offer has been put forward.
“It’s kind of in their court if that’s what they want to do,” Mr. Singh said. “I’m open is all I’m saying. And I’m also happy to keep on fighting for people the way we did in the past.”
Mr. Singh was also asked on Tuesday about the nature of discussions between himself and Mr. Trudeau, and whether he would entertain a confidence-and-supply agreement such as the one the B.C. NDP struck with the Greens in 2017. The deal established the basis for the B.C. Green caucus to support the B.C. New Democrat government.
Mr. Singh said there is “no such discussion right now.” He said the NDP is open to finding ways to ensure the government does the things people need it to do, and “to that goal” he would hear what the government is willing to do. He also said he is “here to push them to do more.”
“I want to be really clear on my goal,” Mr. Singh said. “My goal is there are a whole series of things that people have sent us here to do. And there are things that people are really worried about. And I want to make this government deliver on those things.”
He said, for example, that should the government put forward legislation that would provide 10 days of paid sick leave to federally regulated workers, it would not be “hard to guess” that his party would support it.
Mr. Singh also said his party is still critical of the government in a number of areas, citing its decision to appeal a Federal Court ruling on compensation for Indigenous children who have been taken into the child welfare system.
Mr. Singh said the conversations to date with Mr. Trudeau are in keeping with those that take place before the beginning of any Parliament.
Liberal cabinet ministers were asked on Monday before their first post-election caucus meeting about the idea of working closely with the NDP.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said the government is always open to working with all the parties and that is what “Canadians expect from us.”
“We understand that we need to be working collaboratively.”
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