Jagmeet Singh said Thursday he is hopeful the New Democrats can find common ground with the Liberals in the minority Parliament and suggested the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois are less than ideal dance partners for the Trudeau government.
Mr. Singh, who leads a caucus of 24 MPs, said Thursday he will look for indicators in the Dec. 5 Throne Speech that demonstrate a willingness to work together.
The commitments he’s looking for include a single-payer universal pharmacare system, national dental care, a commitment to fighting the climate crisis in a “meaningful way” and a pledge to drop an appeal of a human-rights tribunal decision on Indigenous children, Mr. Singh said.
“What I want to make very clear is the Liberal government has to work with parties to pass bills,” Mr. Singh told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday morning.
“There’s no question about that."
The Prime Minister, who was reduced from a majority government to a minority in the Oct. 21 election, has been meeting with other party leaders this week on Parliament Hill to assess what each is looking for in this Parliament and where he may see eye-to-eye with them.
He met with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Tuesday and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet on Wednesday.
In his meeting, Mr. Scheer urged Mr. Trudeau to study the implementation of an east-west energy corridor to address national-unity challenges and also called for tax cuts, the cancellation of new environmental-assessment rules and funding for Toronto subway expansions.
Mr. Blanchet said Wednesday he looks forward to collaborating with the Liberal minority on issues that affect Quebeckers, including more financial help for the elderly and a compensation plan for dairy farmers. He also warned he would not shy away from opposing measures that go against Quebec’s interests or infringe on provincial autonomy.
Canadians expect parties to work together to serve them according to their priorities, Mr. Trudeau said Thursday.
“We’re very much focused on working with all parties in the House,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau also indicated areas where the Liberals see shared priorities with the NDP including the fight against climate change, the need to tackle affordability issues such as housing, growing the economy in ways that help everyone, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and improving the health-care system.
Mr. Singh said Thursday he hopes the Prime Minister will choose to work closely with the New Democrats on national, progressive programs and cited pharmacare as an example.
The Conservatives are not interested in rolling out such a program, Mr. Singh said, adding that the Bloc doesn’t have an interest in delivering plans that benefit Canadians across the country because they are “not a national party.”
Mr. Singh said Mr. Trudeau will have to work with him if he has any interest in delivering national, progressive programs.
“And if he’s going to work with me, it [pharmacare] is going to be universal,” he said. "It is going to be public.”
Mr. Singh said he is willing to be constructive with Mr. Trudeau, but vowed that he won’t do this “blindly" to avoid another election. The NDP is deeply in debt.
He said he is ready to head back to the polls, adding he will work for the nearly three million Canadians who voted for the New Democrats.
“But by no means does that mean I’m beholden in any way to working with the Liberals,” he said. "I have a job which is to fight for Canadians.”
“I am hoping that they are prepared to work with us.”
Mr. Singh has left the door open to voting against the Throne Speech, but he hasn’t identified specific issues that would prompt such a move.
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