The region’s Conservative parliamentarian is panning an agreement between the federal Liberals and NDP announced earlier this week that will see stability on confidence and supply matters in the House of Commons for the next three years.
In light of last year’s election results, Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison said Canadians did not vote for the agreement, and noted it will erode parliament’s ability to hold the government to account.
“I think, moving forward, we’ll continue hammering, as we always have, in trying to hold the government accountable,” Morrison said. “It just makes it very challenging when you are facing a majority government that actually has never been accountable, even as a minority government.
“…Canadians did not vote for an NDP government, yet that’s what they have right now, basically. So when you think about it, it’s about Trudeau’s desire for power, certainly not democracy — I don’t think the people who voted Liberal, voted NDP, and I don’t think people who voted NDP, voted Liberal, so it’s kind of interesting how they’re going to rationalize this alliance.”
Broadly speaking, the agreement will see the Liberals move on NDP priorities — such as launching a dental program and a universal national pharmacare program, movement on housing initiatives and affordability, reconciliation with Indigenous nations, and tax fairness — in exchange for support on confidence and supply legislation.
Wayne Stetski, who formerly represented Kootenay-Columbia in the NDP caucus, lauded the agreement and said it will result in a “better Canada.”
“It means Canadians get benefits that the Liberals talk about but have been slow to deliver on,” said Stetski, in an email. “It means growing our economy by creating green jobs that fight the climate crisis, making people’s lives more affordable with housing and childcare, expanding and protecting our healthcare with free dental care and pharmacare, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
“The NDP Members of Parliament will continue to vote against Liberal bills they don’t like, ask tough questions in Question Period, write demanding letters to Ministers. So long as the Liberals deliver on moving the agreed-to initiatives forward the NDP will support the Liberals in non-confidence motions (generally budget bills) only. It will bring stability to government in Canada in very unstable and worrisome times. The NDP can end the agreement at any time if the Liberals don’t deliver.”
According to the agreement, the Liberals, which currently govern with a minority, will move on NDP priorities in exchange for the latter’s support on confidence and supply matters in the House of Commons until June 2025.
“What this means is during this uncertain time, the government can function with predictability and stability, present and implement budgets and get things done for Canadians,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during a press conference on March 22. “I’ve thought long and hard about this; it was not an easy decision. With so much instability around us, Canadians need stability.
“We’re different political parties, we stand for different things, but where we have common goals, we cannot let our differences stand in the way of delivering what Canadians deserve.”
Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the NDP, said the agreement was made to get people immediate help, singling out dental care, pharmacare, housing affordability and climate change.
“What we’ve been able to do is use our power in this minority government to get help to people,” Singh said, during a press conference on March 22. “To get help to people in this difficult time and I want you to know we’ve got your back, we’re here for you. We hear you, we see you and we’re fighting to get you that help and we are delivering that help.
In the House of Commons, 170 votes is needed to pass the majority threshold. With federal Liberal and NDP seat counts at 160 and 25, respectively, there are enough votes — if whipped — to pass legislation deemed as confidence and supply measures.
Reaction from the Conservative Party was swift, as interim party leader Candice Bergen called the agreement a “cooked up backroom deal” that gives Trudeau a majority government.
“Let me be clear, this is nothing more than a Justin Trudeau power grab, he is desperately clinging to power,” said Bergen. “His number one goal as we have seen over the course of the last six years, is always to do what’s best for him, not to do what’s best for Canadians.”
Technically speaking, the agreement does not form a ‘coalition’ government, as some may try to brand it. For a true coalition government to be so defined, there must be NDP representatives in cabinet, which in this case, there is not.
The agreement should be familiar to British Columbians, as the province was governed for three years through a confidence and supply arrangement between the BC NDP and BC Green Party, following the 2017 election.
At the time, the provincial Liberals won 43 seats, while the provincial NDP won 41, which put both in minority government position as they courted the provincial Green Party and accompanying three seats for support necessary to surpass the 44 majority vote threshold.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.