Trudeau rallies troops as MP confirms early talks with Singh on minority government

·3 min read
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a meeting of the Liberal caucus today — the first full meeting of the caucus since the Liberals emerged from the Sept. 20 election with a minority government.  (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press - image credit)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a meeting of the Liberal caucus today — the first full meeting of the caucus since the Liberals emerged from the Sept. 20 election with a minority government. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press - image credit)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened his first caucus meeting since his re-election by praising his party's approach to climate change and pledging to make progress on key initiatives such as child care and ending the pandemic.

Trudeau pointed to the political polarization over vaccines that came up during the election campaign, with anti-vaccination protesters showing up to picket at hospitals.

"The best antidote to that is actually delivering for [Canadians] on the big things that matter, that matter for their lives, that matter for their communities, that matter for their futures, for their kids' futures," Trudeau said.

"That's what we need to stay focused on — keeping Canadians safe, building a better future for them. And that's what I know we're all excited to do."

There has been much speculation in recent days about the possibility of a formal working agreement between the Liberals and the New Democrats to keep Trudeau's minority government stable.

NDP MP Charlie Angus said today that no deal has been struck with the Liberals but confirmed that "an initial conversation" had taken place between NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Trudeau.

Trudeau said only that his government would be willing to work with any party willing to work with the Liberals to deliver "the best possible things to Canadians."

WATCH: Government House Leader Mark Holland on Liberal priorities

Multiple sources in the NDP and the Liberal Party say talk of a formal working agreement has been overblown.

"It is not accurate to say there is a formal agreement or talks to have a formal agreement," said one Liberal with knowledge of the matter. A New Democrat source called the notion of a formal deal "wishful thinking." Both sources spoke on the condition they not be named.

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole railed against the idea of an agreement between the New Democrats and Liberals, calling it a "radical" notion and telling a news conference that the deal would entail "billions of dollars of new spending to buy Jagmeet Singh's silence."

Vaccine mandates

Trudeau said that getting life and the economy back on track requires leadership to "finish with the pandemic once and for all."

He accused the Conservative Party of frustrating that effort by refusing to back his government's policy of imposing vaccine mandates for federal government employees and for travellers on planes, trains and passenger ferries.

"Even as Canadians are moving forward, even as Canadians are continuing to get vaccinated at record rates, the Conservatives are actually working backwards," he said. "More and more Conservatives are now stepping to stand against vaccination, to stand against science, to stand against being there for each other."

WATCH: Trudeau calls out Conservatives on vaccination:

The governing bodies of the House of Commons and the Senate have stated that MPs and staff must be vaccinated to access the parliamentary precinct.

The prime minister also praised his party's approach progress to fighting climate change.

Trudeau said his moves to impose a cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector, cut methane emissions, support the production of zero-emission vehicles and transform the electrical grid to net-zero by 2035 show Canada is a nation with grand climate ambitions.

"On top of that, we are one of the strongest voices out there calling for the world to move forward with a price on pollution and the world is noticing," Trudeau said.

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