Canada's opposition New Democrats say they can back PM Trudeau, but rule out coalition

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh on election night in Vancouver

By David Ljunggren and Ismail Shakil

OTTAWA (Reuters) -The leader of Canada's opposition New Democrats on Tuesday ruled out a formal deal to keep the minority Liberal government in power but added he was willing to support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"There are things we agree on," Jagmeet Singh told a news conference when asked about media reports that the two center-left parties might come to an agreement to keep Trudeau in office for three years.

Trudeau fell short of winning a majority in September's election and needs the backing of opposition lawmakers to push legislation through the House of Commons. Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than two years.

Singh said he wanted to see real action from the Liberals to make housing more affordable, improve the healthcare system and fight climate change.

"We are prepared to work together to deliver help for people, but ... there is no formal or informal agreement," he said.

Canada has never had a formal peacetime coalition in which two parties split ministries between them, and Singh said he had no interest in the idea.

A government source said reports about a possible deal were overblown. But the Liberals have more shared priorities with the New Democrats (NDP) than with other opposition parties, said the source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

Under the Liberals, the national debt and budget deficit have risen to record highs as part of a government effort to deal with COVID-19. Singh said he wanted the spending to continue.

"The Liberals are planning to form a coalition with the NDP that will be a disaster for our economy. They're united in the same high-tax, high-spending agenda," said Erin O'Toole, leader of the official opposition Conservative Party.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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