Jagmeet Singh, the Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), strongly believes he holds the upper hand to assert his party’s policy priorities, given the recent fall in popularity of the Liberals. Singh expressed his commitment to using this political leverage, stating, “We’ve always wanted to use our power to get results for Canadians to make Ottawa work for people.”
He emphasized his intent to continue advocating for policies such as dental care, and to extend his demand to policies beyond the existing agreement.
Since March 2022, the NDP has been embroiled in a confidence-and-supply agreement, promising to uphold the Liberal minority until June 2025, shortly before the designated election month of October that year. This support was pledged in return for definitive action on a range of progressive issues.
However, given Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s waning support and a summer redirected towards revamping his government, Singh sees a window of opportunity to exert pressure on his affiliates to act on policy areas beyond the current agreement.
Singh’s main priority is to insist on more and speedier housing construction that is within the budget for prospective homeowners and tenants. Albeit, housing policies were integrated into the original deal such as a one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit. However, Singh now aspires for this feature to be reintroduced and other features like stepping up efforts to roll out the Housing Accelerator Fund are ongoing.
Over the duration of this political agreement, Singh successfully advanced policies that were not part of the initial deal, including a noteworthy increase in the GST rebate.
Given that the Conservatives have been leading the Liberals in the polls since February, speculation has arisen that Trudeau may be trying to forestall a federal campaign for as long as he can, hoping for a political revival. Maintaining good standing with the NDP, particularly with regard to the confidence-and-supply agreement, is vital to prevent premature elections.
Kathleen Monk, a former NDP strategist, opined that the NDP deems the deal as the “policy floor, not the ceiling,” a starting point with no boundary to the demands the party could make.
Monk further stressed that Canadians don’t want another costly, unnecessary election, especially given the ongoing affordability and housing crises. Monk further highlighted that Canadians long for politicians who work for their benefit, rather than exposing the country to electoral risk again.
18 months into the confidence-and-supply agreement, both political factions have demonstrated their willingness to collaborate on policies beyond the original deal. This openness is particularly pertinent if it benefits Canadians most in need.
Singh also expressed his interest in seeing the federal government actively involved in housing; possession of land, power, and resources equip the federal government with the capacity to construct affordable homes. If such initiative were to come to fruition, Monk believes it would be a significant achievement.
Apart from housing, several key promises remain unfulfilled in the parliamentary pact. Although not all have specific deadlines, such as advancing ‘just-transition’ legislation, five specific commitments need to be acted upon before the end of this year, including expansion of dental care to teenagers and seniors.