The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has reached an agreement with a political rival who will retain power in him until 2025. In return for support from the new Democratic Party for key votes, Trudeau’s Liberals have promised progress with national drug and dental care programs.
“With so much instability around us, Canadians need stability,” the prime minister said as he announced the deal with the NDP on Tuesday morning.
Trudeau said that “no one benefits” when parliament “does not function properly” and that his Liberals will look for common goals with the NDP and other opposition parties.
Trudeau was elected to a third term in September, but has only a minority of seats in parliament, meaning he requires the support of other parties to govern. Minority governments have a relatively short lifespan, and governing parties try to legislate with the ever-present fear of an impending election.
Under a trust and supply agreement, an opposition party does not agree to vote to defeat the government for a period of time. With Tuesday’s announcement, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and his party will support Trudeau’s government on confidence polls as the federal budget. The left-wing NDP has supported Trudeau’s Liberals in key polls since 2019.
Singh’s party fared worse than expected in the last election, adding only one seat. Although no new Democrats will get cabinet seats, the agreement gives the party, which finished fourth in the election, a major influence on the formulation of federal policy.
In addition to pushing medicine and dental care for low-income Canadians, Trudeau said his government will tax banks whose profits rose during the pandemic. He also said that indigenous rights and climate change remained priorities.
The agreement was sharply criticized by the interim Conservative leader, Candice Bergen, who called the agreement “a harsh attempt by Trudeau to hold on to power”.
“This is an NDP-liberal attempt at government by blackmail. Nation-building is being replaced by vote-buying; secret agreement on parliamentary debate; and opportunism on accountability,” Bergen said in a statement late Monday night following media reports of an impending agreement. The NDP-liberal coalition stands, Canada is in a very tough ride. “
While parties often support each other under minority governments, formal trust and supply agreements are relatively rare in federal politics. At the provincial and territorial levels, three governments have entered into similar agreements since 2017. The most prominent agreement, between the British Columbia NDP government and the Green Party, lasted three years.