The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Mar. 26, 2014
He knows what he wants, and what he wants is Canada.
Tom Mulcair, leader of the federal New Democratic Party, has been traveling the country attempting to cast his party as the only one fit to govern the land come 2015, the year of the next federal election.
The Urbanite had a chance to sit down for an exclusive interview with Mulcair over a pint of Guinness at the Kilt and Fiddle.
Mulcair was in Windsor for a town hall discussion last week about the phasing out of door-to-door mail delivery by Canada Post. He made it clear that Canada Post was both viable and essential in its current form for Canadians.
“Canada Post has made a profit in 16 of the last 17 years, the only year in which it didn’t make a profit was the year that Stephen Harper locked out the workers,” he said. “If we put an end to home mail delivery in Canada, we will be the only country in the developed world not capable of delivering mail to people’s homes… there’s absolutely no reason for it.”
Mulcair had strong words about the Conservatives when it came to their handling of both the manufacturing and agricultural sectors in Windsor.
“Windsor has been very hard hit. The manufacturing sector, since the Conservatives have arrived, has been particularly hard hit. Not only do they do nothing to retain jobs, they actually [make] decisions that take jobs,” he said, adding that local workers in the agricultural sector feel “totally abandoned by the federal government.”
Mulcair views Ottawa as fundamentally broken and cited the Prime Minister’s appointment of 59 senators since coming to power as an example of how Harper has broken promises to voters.
“Stephen Harper has shown an abject misunderstanding of the Canadian economy. He says that he’s a good manager, but every time that you look at a case like Canada Post, the inability to do anything in military procurement from ships to helicopters, heck, we’ve had the largest bumper crop in history in the west and they can’t even get the grain to the ports,” Mulcair said.
Just a day after meeting with The Urbanite, a federal court judge issued an injunction which grandfathered 40,000 medicinal marijuana users who were told by Health Canada that they could no longer grow for medical reasons. Mulcair had this to say about changes to marijuana laws:
“…nobody who has marijuana for personal use, would ever be convicted of commit- ting a crime, there’s no way that you’re going to put somebody in jail for that or even let them have a criminal record. [That’s] something that can be fixed, sincerely, overnight, and we would do just that.”
“With regard to medical marijuana it’s a tragedy that Stephen Harper is acting again like he did in the INCITE case. They refuse to look at the evidence in front of them, they act dogmatically and they’re doing it to please their reform party base, so the problem with supply is only going to increase in regards to medical marijuana. They’ve made it much tougher… I think that it’s a tragic mistake that should also be reversed.”
Looking forward to 2015, Mulcair confidently proclaimed that he planned to win the election and took straight aim at the Prime Minister.
“Don’t forget, Stephen Harper has cheated in every election that he’s won,” said Mulcair, referencing the 2006 in-and-out scandal, the 2008 election and MP Dean Del Mastro overspending on his campaign, and tens of thousands of robocalls in 2011.
“But what they’re trying to do for 2015 is to frontload a whole new set of cheating,” Mulcair said. “… There’s been an abject failure on the part of the Conservatives to look at the facts [and] they’re going to change the rules, they’re going to load the dice so to speak in their own favour, that’s what we call frontloading, they’re cheating for the 2015 election and we want Canadi- ans to know about that.”
While Mulcair would love for a large contingent to come out and vote for the NDP in 2015, he made clear he would also be content if more young people simply voted at all, regardless of their party choice.
“We’ve got a very engaged young generation, but who sense that what’s happening in either Ottawa, or Queen’s Park or Quebec City for that matter, doesn’t really concern them,” he said. “… They can stand up, and they can fight [for issues which matter to them], and they can start fighting by voting, and quite frankly, I’d hope that a young person would vote for the NDP, but far more importantly, I just hope that they would vote, irrespective of the party.
“You’re never going to have a party that represents all of your views on everything perfectly, but I think that we can at least look at the ones that have the best chance at doing some of the things we believe in,” he said.
A major issue facing all Canadians is the alleged tracking and collection of electronic information, metadata, of Canadian citizens by CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada). Mulcair expressed privacy concerns and vowed to stop this type of surveillance.
“[It’s] not true that it’s just impersonal information about where they are and what they’re doing… this metadata argument doesn’t wash. It’s invasion of privacy, it’s illegal and the Conservatives have never allowed any real surveillance of that apparatus,” said Mulcair. “… the Conservatives have actually taken this Republican view, they might as well be the Tea Party, that ‘government’s just do this stuff, get over it, get used to it. Well we think that Canadians deserve better and when we form government next year, we’ll make sure that that stops.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.