Leader Jagmeet Singh says New Democrats will support Liberal budget

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has pledged support from his caucus for the 2022 federal budget, saying the Liberals acted "with good faith" by funding key New Democrat priorities such as dental care. 

Singh said the budget honours the agreement he made last month to prop up Justin Trudeau's minority government until 2025, in return for moving on NDP priorities including affordable housing.

Speaking after the budget, Singh said the NDP had used its "power" to get the Liberals to inject hundreds of millions of dollars into dental care and other priorities to help Canadians. 

But he indicated the NDP would have liked more support for the environment and to combat climate change, rather than subsidies for fossil fuels.  

Singh said it was "the wrong approach" to invest in carbon capture and storage, rather than clean energy, and that there were doubts about "whether carbon capture works." 

The government allocated $2.6 billion over five years to a tax credit for companies, including oil and gas companies, that invest in carbon capture and storage, a process for capturing carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere. 

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet also criticized subsidies for the petroleum industry. He said the government "intends to be the instrument of the oil and gas industry." 

Green Party Leader Amita Kuttner also weighed in, saying "carbon capture is a false solution" to help the environment.  

The NDP has traditionally been wary about boosting military spending. But speaking after the budget, which injected more than $8 billion into defence, Singh said his party supported plugging certain funding gaps in the military, including updating outdated equipment. 

But he said the NDP would have liked more money invested in humanitarian aid.

Candice Bergen, interim leader of the Conservative party, welcomed extra investment in defence. But she sharply criticized the budget as a "tax and spend" budget, saying the NDP had made Justin Trudeau lurch to the left. 

"The Liberals have gone so far to the left they are becoming like the NDP," she said.

Singh said his party would vote for the budget, which was a key element of the confidence and supply deal with the Liberals.

On Thursday before the budget was published, some Tory MPs criticized the Liberals in the House of Commons, claiming they had given Singh a briefing on the budget before it was published. The contents of the budget are kept a strict secret before it is published, because of its potential impact on the markets. 

Daniel Blaikie, the NDP finance critic, had earlier said the budget is "the first test" of the agreement and the NDP would be watching closely to see if the Liberals deliver on their promises.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2022.

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press