NDP leader Thomas Mulclair was in Brantford Tuesday night as a guest of Marc Laferrier, the local candidate of record, for a talk and Q&A with about 160 party faithful and others curious about the NDP platform.
Many issues that Mulclair talked about drew polite applause but the biggest round came after Brantford resident Charles Mart, challenged Mulclair to do a couple of things for him.
“Mr. Mulclair, I want you to go through those damn Omnibus Bills and find all the sneaky tricks that was hoisted on us, and then I want you to de-Harperize this nation,” he said, drawing the loud response of approval from the full house audience in the front lobby of the Sanderson Centre.
Mulclair enjoyed Mart’s choice of words and had a good laugh, but promised if elected, he would do just that.
“These Omnibus Bills are just an example of the types of techniques that the Conservatives have borrowed from the American Republicans,” he said. “That is an American trick straight out of their playbook.”
In stark contrast to Prime Minister Harper’s last two visits to Brantford, Mulclair was engaging with the people and with the media. He answered about two-dozen questions from the audience, and spent as much time as was necessary with the media and the people to ensure everyone who had a question could ask it and receive an answer.
Staunch Conservative and former city councillor Greg Martin, challenged Mulclair, “You talk about affordability, but you want to regulate the banks and other businesses to make life more affordable? I want to know when are you going to look in the mirror. What are you going to do to make government more affordable. How are you going to balance the budget so the debt is not passed down to our children and grandchildren?”
Mulclair answered Martin in a calm and deliberate manor, but put the shoe on the other foot by offering examples of what happens when proper governance is not in place and corporations are allowed to monitor themselves.
“When you believe the Reagan-Thatcher mythology, you believe that all government is bad,” answered Mulclair. “That theory is what brought about deregulating railways, which brought about things like the Lac-Mègantic train derailment and explosion that killed 42 people. There was a time when the government sent in an inspector now there is a form to fill out saying their own inspectors say its all OK.”[tweetable alt=””]The Two Row Times asked Mulclair what he felt about Harper’s Bill C-10.[/tweetable]
“The basic principle is that laws apply to everyone,” Mulclair said. “And we want to make sure that everyone’s rights are respected; underlying existing inherent rights are respected; and treaty rights are respected.
“If you are taking about a breach of treaty rights, a breach of inherent rights, or a breach of Canada’s obligation, we will stand up four-square against that.
“There is no issue where I have held more meetings since I became leader of the official opposition than First Nations issues,” he answered. “Not a week goes by that I don’t have at least two meetings with senior Aboriginal representatives. Catherine, my wife, and I spent last summer traveling back and forth across the country meeting with Canadians, First Nations, Inuit and Metis people to let them know that an NDP government will be the first one to start respecting their treaty rights and inherent rights and Canada’s international obligations.”
And about the NDP’s understanding of the Duty to Consult and Accommodate, Mulclair responded, “Steven Harper has never understood that when the Supreme Court says that there has to be meaningful consultation and accommodation, it is not optional.
“Interestingly enough, Steven Harper is starting to realize that what he thought was going to be a gift to Canada’s energy companies, which is to force everything from the top down and not listen to anyone, and not respect treaty rights, he is starting to realize that none of the projects, like Northern Gateway, are actually getting built. And they are not getting built because he’s trying to do it from top down as if this was 50 years ago.”
Mulclair called the abject poverty in many First Nations communities, a “stain on our country” that there are third world living conditions on First Nations reserves across this country.
“I will make it a personal priority, and therefore it will be the government’s priority, to fix the issue of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people’s lack of resect from the consecutive governments of this country. Because we are one of the richest countries in the world, we should be addressing these issues. It’s been long enough that people have talked about it and realized it’s about time we got it done.”