New Democrat MPs will gather in Ottawa today for a two-day planning session to prepare the re-opening of the House of Commons next week.
Party whip Rachel Blaney says the party to discuss how to operate within the current minority Parliament, aiming to get the Liberals to deliver NDP priorities like pharmacare and publicly funded dental care.
“What I’m looking for is increased collaboration, more negotiating between the parties on key issues that matter,” Blaney said.
“I think a lot of Canadians are going to be looking to see what the Liberals are doing in their government and who they’re playing nicely with. There are three opposition parties at play … but at the end of the day when you look at some of the key issues that many Canadians brought forward about affordability, about the climate — the NDP is a great place for them to work with.”
Despite this interest in collaboration, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is signalling the Trudeau government won’t get an easy pass from his party on Canada’s new free-trade pact with the U.S. and Mexico.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that steps to ratify the new NAFTA, including legislation, will be among the first orders of business when Parliament resumes and that passing them will be a priority.
But Singh says the deal was negotiated in a “behind-closed-doors, take-it-or-leave-it way” and that his caucus will discuss whether to support it.
“How can Canadians trust the Liberals to get this right when they spent months saying they had the perfect deal and mocked us for saying it needed to be changed? Now they’re trying to take credit for changes they said were impossible,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
“Canadian workers shouldn’t have to rely on American politicians to protect Canadian jobs. They can count on us to look carefully at this agreement. We’re going to discuss it in caucus and in the debate in the House and see if it actually delivers for Canadians.”
Blaney says the caucus meetings will also include discussions on the downing of Ukraine Internatonal Airlines Flight PS752 and how MPs can support families of the 57 Canadian victims to get the transparency and answers they are looking for.
Singh delivers opening remarks this morning before the caucus hunkers down for its internal conversations.
Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press