Politics

Jagmeet Singh says NDP open to voting against throne speech

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party could vote against the upcoming throne speech if it doesn't offer commitments to parts of the party's platform, including a universal pharmacare plan.

NDP leader says he wants to see a commitment to pharmacare in the speech

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party could vote against the upcoming throne speech if it doesn't offer commitments to parts of the party's platform, including a universal pharmacare plan.

"We are absolutely open to voting against the throne speech if it doesn't include some of the priorities we know Canadians need," he told reporters this afternoon.

"We're not putting forward any red lines but I am prepared to vote against it if it doesn't respect the values that we have as a party."

Parliament is set to convene on Dec. 5, when MPs will elect a House Speaker and the Liberals will present a throne speech outlining the government's priorities for the session.

If the speech goes to a vote, it would be the new House of Commons' first test of its confidence in the government. A vote is not guaranteed, however.

Ahead of the new session, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been meeting with the opposition leaders and will sit down with Singh Thursday.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tells reporters he is willing to vote against the throne speech if it doesn't address issues, he says Canadians need and want, like pharmacare and dental care. 0:49

Despite slipping to fourth place in the House of Commons, Singh said he plans to wield any leverage his party might have in a minority Parliament to deliver on the NDP's priorities.

"We want to see some real commitments on health care, on pharmacare. We want to see an openness to dental care. We want to see concrete steps to tackling the climate crisis," said the NDP leader.

"I'm keeping an open mind."

Singh already has said that one of the first things his party will do when Parliament reconvenes is bring forward a private members' bill to create a framework for a national pharmacare plan.

He said he'll also push Trudeau to drop a federal government appeal of a human rights tribunal ruling that ordered the government to compensate Indigenous children and families hurt by the child welfare system.

The NDP was reduced to 24 seats in the Oct. 21 election, down from the 39 they held before the campaign started.

One of the biggest winners in last month's election, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, met with the prime minister Wednesday.

Before the closed-door session began, Trudeau said the two leaders would work on "shared priorities" such as tackling climate change, addressing cost-of-living issues, gun control and protecting supply management. Blanchet said health transfers and seniors' health care also will be priorities for his caucus.

The Bloc leader said he wants the throne speech to be a "source of solutions" that will benefit Quebecers, but he expects it to be more about principles than details.

The Bloc surged during the campaign, growing from 10 seats prior to the election to 32 afterward.

With files from the CBC's Kathleen Harris

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