Ottawa – March 30, 2022 – Canadian politics, much like the politics of our southern neighbours, has come to resemble a hyper-partisan martial arts cage match, rather than an honest attempt to improve the lives of Canadians. Name-calling and unsubstantiated conspiracies have become the norm, instead of respectful debate and a genuine exchange of ideas.
In the 2021 Federal Election, a minority Liberal government was re-elected and for many Canadians there was an expectation that it was time for political parties to work together to address the serious issues facing the country. Those matters include climate change, inequality, Reconciliation, and the proper funding and expansion of health care. The need to address these issues was further highlighted by COVID-19, but until now little had been accomplished.
With a heart-felt desire to help people, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh used the minority scenario to negotiate a Supply and Confidence Agreement with the government, securing a deal that goes a long way in tackling the problems that are plaguing Canadians from coast to coast. The agreement is NOT a coalition government, as the Conservatives have been quick to label it. A coalition government would mean full power sharing between the Liberals and the NDP, including seats at the cabinet table for the New Democrats. This deal allows the NDP to have an independent voice in Parliament but compels the party to support the government on issues and legislation that are matters of confidence. And if the government does not follow through on their commitments, the New Democrats can leave the agreement and vote against the government.
As expected, the most negative voices in Parliament, the Conservatives, were quick to claim the agreement somehow usurps our democracy, and that it is a backroom deal meant to bring about socialism. Saskatchewan’s right-wing premier Scott Moe called it ‘an affront to democracy,’ displaying his ignorance of how our parliamentary system works.
Singh’s NDP have demonstrated exactly what minority governments are supposed to do: force political parties with different views to find common ground and work together. The agreement ensures that we are not on election alert, with the Liberals waiting for their best opportunity to call another election. Instead, the deal runs until 2025, a timeframe that would constitute the normal life of a majority government, and ensures that real actions are taken on issues like:
- A comprehensive, universal pharmacare plan
- A phased-in dental care plan for low-income Canadians
- A safe, federal long-term care act
- A homebuyers’ bill of rights
- Federal anti-scab legislation
- And provisions to make it easier and more convenient for all Canadians to vote
History has shown that the smaller party in these agreements – the NDP in this case – often do not reap the benefits of what the deals achieve. But Jagmeet Singh was clear that his agreement is not about election prospects; it is about getting things done for Canadians. In a rare display in today’s political environment, Singh and the NDP have shown us exactly how a minority government is supposed to work.