NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks with the media following caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday November 28, 2018. Jagmeet Singh is preparing for his biggest political fight, trying to secure a desperately-needed seat in Parliament so he can have access to the political theatre of question period rather than watching from the sidelines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks with the media following caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday November 28, 2018. Jagmeet Singh is preparing for his biggest political fight, trying to secure a desperately-needed seat in Parliament so he can have access to the political theatre of question period rather than watching from the sidelines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he’s prepared to vote against the Liberal throne speech if his party’s key priorities are not reflected in some way in the Liberals’ policy agenda.

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, when he will lay out his priorities in the hopes of using his party’s position in a minority Parliament to get policies and laws that reflect New Democrat platform commitments.

Speaking on Parliament Hill Wednesday, Singh said he has three key priorities that he hopes to see in the Liberal throne speech, which will be delivered when Parliament resumes on Dec. 5.

The No. 1 ask from the NDP will be Liberal support for the immediate creation of a national universal pharmacare program.

“That means a timeline, a framework, that means making sure that we’ve got some clear steps that are going to be indicated in the throne speech,” Singh said.

“We know that people are worried about health care. This is something that would unite Canadians across the country.”

Singh said he wants to see an “openness” from the Liberals to public dental coverage. He will also push Trudeau to drop the government’s legal challenge of a recent Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that ordered Ottawa to pay $40,000 each in compensation to Indigenous children who were wrongly placed in foster care after 2007, as well as to their parents or grandparents.

The New Democratic leader said he’s not issuing ultimatums but he did say his party would be willing and ready to vote against the throne speech — the first confidence vote that Trudeau’s minority government will have to pass to hold power — if it doesn’t acknowledge the NDP’s requests somehow.

“I’m keeping an open mind and I’m not drawing any lines in the sand, but I’m making it really clear I’m prepared to vote against, our party is prepared to vote against, if it doesn’t reflect the important things that Canadians sent us here to do.”

The NDP was reduced to fourth place in the House of Commons behind the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois after winning just 24 seats in the recent election, down from the 39 it held before the Oct. 21 vote.

But despite these losses, party and caucus members were cheering on election night and have since been viewing the upcoming re-opening of Parliament as a positive for the party.

READ MORE: Expert says Liberals need to placate NDP to be effective

Returning MP Peter Julian points to past minorities that saw the NDP negotiate progressive initiatives, such as universal medicare and the Canada Pension Plan.

“It’s a lot easier to get things done in a minority Parliament, as I think historically minority Parliaments have proven, than it is in a majority Parliament where the (Prime Minister’s Office) decides everything and often makes decisions just in the interests of lobbyists rather than in the interests of Canadians,” he said.

“In this case it’s not only the politically smart approach to take, to work with us, it’s also in the best interests of Canadians.”

Trudeau has been meeting with all federal party leaders and with a number of premiers over the last week, getting a laundry list of requests and demands as the other leaders flex their muscles against the weakened Liberals. The opposition leaders want spending or policy commitments from Trudeau in exchange for support to keep his minority government afloat.

Trudeau has shunned a formal coalition with any of the other parties, but has indicated willingness to work with parties on a case-by-case basis.

When it comes to Singh’s top request, the Liberal platform did promise a $6-billion increase to provincial health transfers over the next five years to help pay for improvements including pharmacare. Singh has said this would not go far enough, despite criticism from the Liberals that Singh’s demands are unrealistic.

The advisory panel on pharmacare established by the Liberals during the last Parliament estimated full-scale pharmacare would cost at least $15 billion a year. Singh’s platform estimated the price at $11 billion by 2023-24.

When it comes to dental care, Singh appears to be offering the Liberals more leeway. During the campaign, the NDP leader’s daily speeches included heavy emphasis on his promise to extend full public dental coverage to households making less than $70,000 a year.

On Wednesday, he said he will be looking for “openness” from the Liberals to help Canadians struggling with dental-care costs.

Conversely, the NDP leader was specific in calling for the government to drop its appeal in the child-welfare case. That may prove to be a harder sell to Trudeau, who has said he believes compensation is warranted but that the time frame given by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was too tight. The tribunal issued its compensation order Sept. 6, with a deadline of Dec. 10 for submissions on how to handle the multibillion-dollar compensation award. Much of the time in between has been taken up with the 40-day election campaign.

Julian said he sees many similarities in Trudeau’s approach to the one taken by Paul Martin when his Liberal government was reduced to a minority in 2004. At that time, Martin initially tried to govern as though he had a majority, Julian said, but eventually had to walk back a proposed suite of corporate tax cuts and instead work with then-NDP leader Jack Layton to increase spending on post-secondary education, transit and housing.

Julian said the NDP is a particularly well-positioned to work with the Liberals now because of their shared progressive ideologies. He noted the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have “very right-leaning priorities” and that even if Trudeau might not want to play ball with the NDP just yet, this could very well shift.

“I think with minority governments they sometimes, particularly when they’ve had a majority government before, don’t necessarily understand that the dynamic has changed, and I see that as posturing,” Julian said.

“But I know that Jagmeet will be putting forward the priorities that he very clearly put out during the election campaign. Ultimately, we’re just going to keep pushing and working hard, the way we do, and ultimately I think the reality of a minority government is something that will be very clear to Mr. Trudeau and to the Liberal government.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read