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Two NDP MPs vote against fiscal update motion over Indigenous, gender issues

NDP MP Lori Idlout rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang) NDP MP Lori Idlout rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)
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OTTAWA -

Despite a deal in which the NDP pledged to support the Liberals on key votes in the House of Commons, two New Democrat MPs broke with their party on Thursday to reject a government motion on the fall economic statement.

The supply-and-confidence agreement has the NDP supporting the minority Liberals on important votes, including on budget policy, in exchange for movement on shared priorities.

The so-called ways and means motion sought the House's support for the introduction of a bill to implement last week's fall economic statement.

MPs Leah Gazan and Lori Idlout say their votes against it are intended to send a message to the Liberal government that it is failing on Indigenous and gender issues.

"We are putting them on notice that it is not OK anymore to leave women and gender-diverse and Indigenous Peoples out in the cold," Gazan, who is the NDP critic for women and gender equality, told reporters following the vote.

The MPs said they voted against the motion because it failed to address challenges facing Indigenous communities, including a sizeable infrastructure gap.

"We've been fighting hard the last two and a half years to make sure that Indigenous Peoples' needs are being met," said Idlout, who is the NDP critic for multiple Indigenous files.

"And the fall economic statement was a clear indication that the Liberals are not willing to do what they can to uplift Indigenous Peoples."

The two also called out Ottawa's decision to end pandemic-era funding to women's shelters that support those fleeing from domestic violence.

Gazan and Idlout say they have the support of their caucus and leader, even though the rest of the NDP contingent in the House voted in favour of the government motion.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presented the fall economic statement on Nov. 21.

It offered an update on federal finances and announced limited new measures to address housing and affordability.

The update was far from the more-substantial mini-budgets the federal government had on offer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal Liberals are vowing fiscal restraint to avoid fuelling inflation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023.

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