Okanagan reacts to federal confidence deal between Liberals and NDP

Click to play video: 'Local MPs and residents react to confidence deal'
Local MPs and residents react to confidence deal
Local MPs and residents react to confidence deal – Mar 22, 2022

The Confidence and Supply agreement brokered between the federally governing Liberals and the New Democrats will ensure Justin Trudeau remains in power through to 2025 — if the agreement lasts.

The prime minister made the announcement on Tuesday morning.

It means the NDP will support major confidence votes and not vote to bring down the minority government.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the NDP to have a real impact to help Canadians,” Richard Cannings, the NDP MP for South Okanagan-West Kootenay, told Global News on Tuesday.

In exchange, the NDP will be able to push through some of its key priorities, including improved access to dental care and PharmaCare.

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“These are things that we’ve been pushing for years, decades even, without any support from the governments, Liberal or Conservative,” said Cannings. “The Liberals have been promising PharmaCare for over 25 years and this gives us that chance to actually get it done.”

While Cannings said this isn’t how an NDP government would govern, he thinks, given the circumstances, it’s a good deal for Canadians.

“I’m quite confident that this will be a very good deal for Canadians,” Cannings said.

“Getting people dental care, who don’t have it now … that’s like 30 per cent of Canadians. Getting people PharmaCare.

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“There’s 10 per cent of Canadians who can’t afford to fill their own prescriptions, and so they end up sick in emergency. These are things that will really change people’s lives.”

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But the deal is not sitting well with Conservatives, including local MP Dan Albas, who calls it nothing short of a power grab by Trudeau.

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“When we had a pandemic election last year, a very expensive election, he saw the potential for a majority,” said Albas, the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola. “He decided to go for it. Canadians said no, ‘You’re going to continue with a minority.’ And now this is a way of artificially finding a majority.”

With the deal between the two parties in place, Albas questioned the NDP’s ability to hold the government accountable.

“We were supposed to have the ability to hold this government to account both in the House and in committees,” Albas said. “If there’s an ethics scandal, if there is a spending scandal, will the NDP now be covering up for Justin Trudeau? That’s a big question.”

Cannings said his party will continue to serve as a regular opposition party, watching the government closely.

“The day-to-day votes on government legislation will all be businesses as usual. We’ll be supporting or not government bills on legislation, whether we think they’re useful or not,” Cannings said.

“So for the most part, you wouldn’t see the difference. The only difference you’ll see is that when it comes to confidence motions, we will be supporting the government — unless we feel they haven’t been living up to their policy agreement. Then we can just say ‘We’re pulling our support’ and walk away from it.”

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On the streets of Kelowna, residents that Global News spoke to, for the most part, were glad to hear they won’t be heading to the polls anytime soon.

While Conservatives criticize the deal, it does provide the party with something they need: the luxury of time.

The party will be selecting its new leader in September, giving the party more than two years to prepare for the next federal election.

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