Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mulcair paints vision for Peace, Prosperity and Global Leadership for Canada at Queen's

If Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair's job is to win over the middle class in all other provinces and territories outside Quebec, while holding his ' base' in that province, he made great strides yesterday in delivering the Dow Lecture at Queen's University in Kingston. Multiple ethnicities, and a rainbow of ages were represented by the crowd who, while somewhat polite and reserved, were nevertheless open to his proposals and receptive to the needed change in leadership and direction in Ottawa in 2015.
Sponsored by the School of Public Policy, and named after the founder of the school, the lecture brings in a prominent leader from the Canadian policy arena each year. Mulcair did not disappoint an overflow audience in the auditorium in the Biosciences Complex at 4.00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Something seems to be stirring about the need to turf the Harper government in 2015, and Mulcair is clearly 'up' for the job of replacing Harper.
Here are some of the highlights of the lecture entitled, Canada in the 21st Century: A Vision for Peace, Prosperity and Global Leadership:
Under Mulcair's leadership the NDP  will:
  • actively participate in international deliberations including the United Nations and the G20
  • commit to achieving the Pearson doctrine of .7% of GDP to foreign aid
  • as Prime Minister Mulcair will attend the conference planned for Paris in 2015 on global warming and climate change
  • NOT raise taxes on individuals in Canada, but will raise the level of corporate tax to an average of all OECD countries
  • introduce a cap-and-trade policy to reduce emissions in Canada
  • introduce a national day-care policy with reasonable costs, similar to that already operating in Quebec
  • enter candidates in all ridings without collaborating with the Liberals, following Michael Ignatief's comment when a coalition was ready to bring down the Harper government in 2008, "There is a only a red door and a blue door!"
  • read and look for clauses in international trade agreements that protect workers in Canada, that protect the environment and that limit the right of foreign corporations and governments to take legal action against the Canadian government and erode Canadian sovereignty
  • balance national interest with international responsibility through policy choices that are not linked to ideological purity by returning Canada to a respected and responsible participant in international development
  • fight to maintain the federal government's 50% share of the costs of health care in Canada, projected after 2016 under Harper to fall to some 12%
  • continue to pursue the abolition of the unelected Senate through a constitutional amendment
  • require that all proposed federal legislation complies with all treaties with First Nations signed two centuries ago
  • negotiate all natural resource development projects with all sectors, protecting both the business and the environment, in order to earn the trust of trading partners who demand responsible development
If there are still, and there clearly are, Canadians who would see such an NDP-driven prospect for Canada over the next decade as "dangerous" and "radical" they were not in that auditorium yesterday afternoon. This audience included many demographics including both young and old, and multiple ethnicities and warmly responded to his energetic and revitalizing performance
Mulcair is conscious of the changing conditions inside and outside Canada, providing strident examples of data like the fact that in Toronto today, 50% of families are dependent on two part-time incomes, where the two parties barely see each other as they continue to work and raise their family. He points to the "scrubbers" installed by Inco on the 'stacks' in Sudbury as an example of corporations moving when the costs of making the needed improvements to environmental protection are as high as the cost of continuing to emit carbon dioxide. On the international front, Mulcair notes that 'national interest,' the previous determining factor in foreign policy, is no longer adequate in a world in which two times the world's total GDP crosses international boundaries twice each week and where conflicts are no longer the actions of state actors alone but now include non-state actors. He sees the complexity of blending cultures, languages and ethnicities in many countries as one to which Canada can make a significant contribution, and should, given our history of attempting to balance and respect the interests of two national languages, and the needs of many ethnicities.
Restoring Canadian embassies in African countries where they have been closed under Harper, is another commitment, congruent with Mulcair's goal of restoring Canada's reputation among the world community to one of predictability and respect, not one based primarily on ideology. Engagement with partners, both inside the country and around the world is, according to Mulcair, a significant shift from the withdrawal and ideological commitments currently underway with Harper.
While Mulcair's passion, dedication, sense of humour and intellectual acuity are the sauces that graced the menu yesterday afternoon, make no mistake that Tom Mulcair is more than adequately prepared and ready and eager to replace Stephen Harper in 24 Sussex. And there is no longer any doubt that, along with a significant shift in the direction Canada would pursue under Mulcair's leadership, there is simply no reason to put any stock in the Conservative arguments that the NDP is radical, opposed to business, enmeshed with labour at the expense of the rest of the Canadian society, and dangerous for the economy. In fact, given the record of provincial governments headed by the NDP, sound public administration, balanced budgets and fair policies could and would be expected by both the people responsible and the electors themselves.
Whether that message can be distributed, digested and debated thoroughly over the next several months, in all of the pubs, coffee shops, train and bus stations, airports and campuses, supported by the Canadian media who may like Mulcair but continue to be restrained by their corporate bosses, is the outstanding question. This is one small space that will continue to strive to spread the NDP message, and to support the election of an NDP government in Ottawa in 2015.
We share a vision of a Canada that depends on and provides a more fair and equal access to opportunity and a share in the abundant natural resources in Canada for all, including the human component of those resources. We also share in the commitment made to the planet's environment yesterday by Mulcair, and we also share in the profound need to remove the Harper Conservatives from power, and to replace them with the first national NDP government.

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