Amid the recent decline in the Liberal party’s popularity, Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), has expressed his renewed confidence in using this perceived political advantage to further their policy objectives. On Thursday, not far from the heart of Ottawa, Singh conveyed to reporters his party’s persistent commitment to shaping national policy in favour of the people. “We’ve always wanted to use our power to get results for Canadians [and] to make Ottawa work for people,” Singh said, thereafter citing successful outcomes such as the dental care policy. He further expressed intent to advocate for policies beyond the current agreement between the NDP and Liberals.
Since March 2022, the NDP and the Liberals have entered into a confidence-and-supply agreement, effectively solidifying the NDP’s support for the minority Liberal government until June 2025. This agreement was founded on an exchange of Liberal considerations for policy action on a number of progressive issues.
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s popularity reportedly dwindling following a politically challenging summer, Singh sees the current situation as an opportune moment to push the Liberals to act on policy areas beyond the standing agreement. Housing is the NDP leader’s primary policy focus. He aims to accelerate the construction of affordable housing, develop rental properties, and facilitate homeownership.
While the existing agreement integrates several housing commitments, Singh is keen to revisit and expand upon their magnitude. This includes revisiting the Canada Housing Benefit and increasing efforts to implement the Housing Accelerator Fund, both of which are still in progress.
Ever since aligning with the Liberals, Singh has made progress on various policies not initially part of the agreement, like obtaining a notable GST rebate enhancement. Meanwhile, polling data from Nanos Research suggests the Conservatives are steadily dominating popularity polls since February, leaving Trudeau in a precarious position to delay a federal election.
Keeping the NDP content with the confidence-and-supply agreement is essential in averting an untimely election. Kathleen Monk, a former NDP strategist, stated that the agreement is not a limit, but a starting point for what the party could strive for. She further emphasized that the current imperative is to avert an unnecessary and costly election during the affordability and housing crises Canada is dealing with currently, thereby prioritizing citizen needs over political ambitions.
Monk is supportive of the growing synergy between the Liberals and the NDP under this agreement, stressing the importance of targeting initiatives at the Canadians most in need. “The focus has to be on getting things done for Canadians,” she concluded.
Singh also voiced his desire for the government to re-enter the housing sector. “We need to unlock the power of the federal government,” he said. “Our government has the land, power, and the resources to build homes that are affordable, and we need to get doing that.”
If the NDP successfully influences housing policy, Monk sees it as a significant victory. However, multiple key commitments under the parliamentary pact remain unfulfilled, including the advancement of “just transition” legislation and expansion of dental care services. Despite lacking specific deadlines, both sides have agreed that these commitments need action before this year’s end.