New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh says he is not interested in forcing a federal election with a second wave of COVID-19 looming, if he can work with liberals to provide much-needed help to struggling Canadians.
Singh’s comments on Friday were the clearest yet on whether the NDP plans to support the minority liberal government’s throne speech next week. The speech will be followed by a vote of confidence that liberals must win to continue governing.
Liberals need party support to move forward, and the fourth-ranked NDP has enough seats to make that happen.
Singh was scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday afternoon and said he would advocate for the government to extend benefits for unemployed Canadians that liberals plan to cut.
“We are absolutely prepared to fight an election. But I want to be very clear on this point: it is not my goal to bring down the government, it is not my goal to force an election, ”Singh said in a speech in front of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., With Parliament as the backdrop across the Ottawa River.
“But we know that with the next second wave, with the help Canadians need right now, our focus is to make sure families, workers and small businesses get the help they need.”
In the speech, and in remarks to subsequent reporters, Singh accused his liberal and conservative counterparts of complying with orders from big business during the pandemic.
Singh took aim at Trudeau and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole while presenting the NDP’s priorities. She told her supporters that her two main political rivals are essentially in the back pocket of big business and the “super rich,” who she said have benefited massively during the pandemic at the expense of workers.
“Mega companies like Netflix and Amazon pay practically no tax in Canada,” he said.
“Tax loopholes and gifts continue to allow wealthier Canadians to get away without paying their fair share. This is not an accident. The system designed by the parties of Justin Trudeau and Erin O’Toole does not work for workers. It works for the rich and powerful. “
Later, when answering questions about whether he would support the government, Singh said: “The wealthiest have made a profit in this pandemic, but ordinary people have really felt the pain. That is why we need to help them. “
He made clear that unless liberals focus more on workers than larger corporate interests, his party’s support will evaporate.
“If the liberal government continues down a path where they are more interested in helping themselves, they are embroiled in a scandal and are unwilling to do what is necessary. and they are more concerned with helping themselves, so we are prepared to fight an election. “
Singh wants liberals to extend benefits for unemployed Canadians that he says they plan to cut.
He also called on the government to do more to help older people and address the crises of climate change and affordable housing.