An agreement between two of Canada’s federal political parties has generated a level of outrage for what has been described by some as a power grab.
The agreement, which took place between the minority Liberals and the New Democrats earlier this month, could keep the Liberals in power until 2025.
Under the terms of this agreement, the NDP will not move for a motion of non-confidence, nor will the party vote for a motion of non-confidence.
The two parties are now working on a dental-care program for low-income Canadians, national pharmacare, affordable housing, phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels and forbidding the use of replacement workers during strikes or lockouts and supporting Indigenous communities wishing to undertake burial searches at sites of former residential schools..
In short, this agreement brings to the forefront some causes dear to the NDP, in exchange for a level of support of the Liberals.
This is not a shift in the balance of power, but more of a formalization of the NDP’s support. The last federal election in fall, 2021 gave the Liberals a minority government with 159 of the 338 federal seats. This is 10 short of the number needed for a majority government. The added support of the NDP, with 25 seats, serves to alter the political landscape.
Agreements between political parties are nothing new in Canadian politics.
In past federal minorities, arrangements have been made between the NDP and the Progressive Conservatives or the Liberals. During those years, the NDP were neither the governing party nor the official opposition, but wielded considerable power.
There would have been nothing preventing the federal Conservatives from striking a deal with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois. Such an arrangement could have combined the 119 Conservative seats, the 32 Bloc Québécois seats and the 25 NDP seats to hold the Liberals at bay. Bringing these three parties into unity would have been challenging, but not impossible.
The agreement between the Liberals and the NDP should not be seen as a merger of two political ideologies, nor as an iron-clad promise of unconditional NDP support for the Liberals. The NDP still have their unique voice in Canadian politics, and the party is able to withdraw its support for the Liberals at any time.
Despite the support from the New Democrats, the federal Liberals still have a minority government and must still tread carefully.