An agreement between the Liberals and NDP that would keep the governing party in place through the remainder of its term is “bad news for Alberta,” according to Premier Jason Kenney.
The “supply and confidence” agreement announced Tuesday means the federal New Democratic Party will back the Liberals in all upcoming confidence votes including four budgets; meaning the Liberals could hold on to power through to 2025.
During question period in the Alberta Legislature, Kenney slammed the agreement and said it would keep “anti-Alberta policies in place for the next three years.”
“I put them on notice,” the premier said. “This government will fight to defend our economy against the Liberal-NDP coalition everyday.”
Kenney said the deal between the federal parties will also impact Alberta’s ability to promote its energy industry around the world.
“After Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the world knows now, more than ever, that we need to increase and produce more Alberta energy to displace ‘dictator oil,'” Kenney said. “We will use every tool that we can to fight the Trudeau-Singh alliance and their effort to kill pipelines and kill Canada’s largest job-creating industry.”
According to Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, many leaders in the oil and gas sector in Alberta have already brought forward policies that balance energy and environment.
“The reality remains that oil and gas and its future depends on balancing with the environment,” Williams said. “That could be at least an opportunity for the industry in Alberta, and potentially the Government of Alberta, to generate policies and initiatives that would be good for the industry and for the economy of Alberta.”
Investing in climate change initiatives is one of the seven pieces of the deal between the NDP and the Liberals.
Others include a work on a national pharmacare program, affordability, workers’ rights, Indigenous issues, improvements to the tax system and election updates.
The deal also includes a national dental program for low-income Canadians, which will be restricted to families with an annual income of less than $90,000. Anyone with income under $70,000 per year would not require any co-pays.
Under the agreement, work is expected to begin with children under the age of 12 later this year, followed by an expansion to those under the age of 18 as well as seniors and people with disabilities next year.
A full implementation would come in 2025, according to a joint release between the NDP and the Liberals.
It’s welcome news for local poverty reduction groups, like Vibrant Communities Calgary, which said it is awaiting further details on the rollout of the plans.
“On the face of it, they look pretty good in terms of helping people live in poverty meets their basic needs — their basic needs being health and housing and childcare,” Vibrant Communities Calgary executive director Meaghon Reid said. “The devil, though, is in the details: are there barriers that are going to exist in terms of accessing these programs?”
While many Albertans aren’t in favour of the politics behind the deal, it’s the proposed policies that have piqued the interest of some Calgarians who spoke with Global News on Tuesday.
“The dental, the pharmacare, I just think that’s something that’s needed,” Quinn Beecroft said.
Others noted the cost of dental care in Canada.
“Most people don’t go to the dentist as often just because of the prices,” Desiree Kardash said. “It seems pretty positive to me.”
But others said the politics of the deal is too much to overcome.
“I don’t really think it’s a good idea. A lot of Canadians didn’t select this when they voted back in (September),” Brian Cosier said. “The NDP and the Liberals have been buddies for a number of years so this isn’t a huge stretch.”
According to Elections Canada, 32.6 per cent of votes cast were for the Liberal party, 17.8 per cent for the NDP and 33.7 per cent for the Conservative party in the last federal election.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the agreement is to ensure “the government can function with predictability and stability,” during what he called an “uncertain time.”
Williams noted there are differences between a coalition government and the deal announced on Tuesday.
“We don’t have NDP cabinet ministers participating in decision making within the the Liberal cabinet,” Williams said. “But we do see a really golden opportunity for the NDP to put forward some of the initiatives that it’s been campaigning on for years now, some of which are extremely popular amongst Canadians, or at least for those who support policies.”
In the legislature, Kenney said the agreement between the parties will make things like groceries, home heating and gasoline more expensive for Canadians through the carbon tax.
“The NDP-Liberal coalition wants to drive Canadian families into energy poverty,” Kenney said. “We will fight them every step of the way.”