November 14, 2019 / 6:13 PM / 24 days ago

Canada minority party signals willingness to work with PM Trudeau

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The leader of Canada’s opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), Jagmeet Singh, said on Thursday he hoped to work constructively with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government on issues including a universal prescription drug plan.

FILE PHOTO: New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to supporters after being re-elected in Burnaby South at an NDP election night party in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson -/File Photo

Singh’s comments, after he met with Trudeau, were the strongest indication yet that his left-leaning party would help keep the prime minister in power. On Wednesday, Singh threatened not to back Trudeau if his concerns were not addressed.

The Liberals lost their majority in last month’s election and need the support of other parties to govern.

“I am hopeful after the meeting that there is an opportunity for us to work together,” Singh told reporters. “I want to find ways where we move forward constructively.”

The Liberals and the left-leaning NDP together hold 181 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons elected chamber, more than enough to push through legislation.

Trudeau is due to unveil his plans to the House of Commons in early December in the so-called Throne Speech, which is usually followed by a confidence vote. Trudeau indicated last month he would seek support for his policies on a case-by-case basis.

Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet met with Trudeau on Wednesday and said his party shared common ground with the Liberals. Even the Conservative Party, the main opposition party, would likely back the middle-class tax cut Trudeau said would be the first act of his new government.

“With Mr. Singh, we have a number of shared priorities,” Trudeau said before meeting Singh, citing a universal prescription drug plan, fighting climate change, and improving relations between Indigenous peoples and the government.

Afterward, Singh stressed that he wanted Trudeau to lay out a timeline for passing a national drug plan.

“He (Trudeau) understood that I want to see some clear timelines. That, to me, would show a real commitment,” Singh said.

“We know that the government is going to need our support at some level if they want to pass bills ... I want to make it clear that that’s not going to come for free,” he said.

Reporting by Steve Scherer, additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Steve Orlofsky

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