NDP leader to make campaign stop in Sudbury on Tuesday

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is seen during a campaign speech in Sherbrooke, Que., Sunday, September 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who spent the weekend wooing autoworkers in Ontario and Quebec voters, will visit Sudbury on Tuesday.

Singh will hold what’s being called the Sudbury Town Hall on Affordability starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Steelworkers Hall on Brady Street.

No doubt his stop is intended to support the campaigns of Beth Mairs, who is running for the NDP in Sudbury, and Stef Paquette, who is running in Nickel Belt — two ridings the party lost in 2015.

On Sunday, Singh extended a hand to Quebec nationalists, promising the province new powers and funding in a bid to revive the so-called orange wave of support that carried his party to official Opposition status eight years ago.

The 11-page platform for Quebec included an expansion of the province’s language laws and the right to withdraw from federal programs with financial compensation.

He also promised to find a way to get Quebec to sign the Constitution, on its own terms, although he did not explain how he would solve a problem that has long proven a political impasse.

“The fact that historically Quebec has not signed the Constitution is a mistake that should not exist,” Singh told supporters gathered in the conference room of a hotel in Sherbrooke, Que.

He also pledged more money to help integrate immigrants, increased powers in areas such as environmental assessment and trade agreements, and to expand the province’s language law, Bill 101, to cover all federally regulated companies in Quebec.

The Sherbrooke riding is held by the NDP’s Pierre-Luc Dusseault, who became the youngest MP in Canadian history when he won the seat in 2011, one of 59 NDP MPs elected in Quebec that year as part of a massive surge of support.

But he’s among the few who are still there; things reversed dramatically for the party in 2015, and NDP held only 14 seats in the province at dissolution.

Singh said the document he presented builds on the work of past party leader Layton, and Tom Mulcair, though he intends to capture the support of Quebecers by being himself.

Identity issues loom large in Quebec, which recently passed a law that prevents civil servants in so-called “positions of authority” from wearing religious symbols on the job.

The NDP leader was forced once again to explain why he would not commit to joining any court challenges of Bill 21, which would prevent Singh himself from working as a teacher or a police officer in the province. As a Sikh, he wears a turban.

Singh, who opposes the bill but says it would not be right to “interfere” in a challenge, rejected the notion that he lacks political courage.

“I have the courage to come to Quebec, I’m a guy with a beard and a turban and I’m running for prime minister,” he said.

On Saturday, Singh borrowed a page from Donald Trump’s protectionist playbook, vowing that a New Democrat government would tie made-in-Canada strings to new incentives aimed at rebuilding the country’s sputtering auto industry.

The NDP leader began his campaign weekend in the blue-collar capital of Oshawa, choosing as his backdrop the General Motors assembly plant slated for closure by the end of the year as part of the auto giant’s broad North American restructuring effort.

He promised to resurrect a $300-million automotive innovation strategy to encourage the development of zero-emission vehicles, but with a catch: manufacturers and auto-parts suppliers would be required to invest in keeping jobs on Canadian soil.

The tactic, part of the climate-change strategy the party unveiled earlier this year, conveniently checks multiple campaign boxes for the NDP: it’s easily framed as a job-creation measure and an offensive against confronting global warming, all the while allowing Singh to describe his Liberal and Conservative rivals as fat-cat friends to big business, a popular New Democrat theme.

“What Liberals have done and Conservatives have done is they’ve given blank cheques to wealthy corporations — blank cheques with no strings attached,” Singh said, flanked by auto workers impacted by the Oshawa plant closure.

“We want to make sure that if we invest in our sectors, there’s a requirement, there’s strings attached that jobs have to remain in Canada.”

The NDP would also spend additional money to encourage consumers to focus on zero-emissions options, tripling the Liberal government’s $5,000 incentive program, but, again, only if the cars and trucks they choose were assembled on Canadian soil or contain a certain percentage of Canadian content.

— with files from Canadian Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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