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NDP leadership candidates take on Montreal

by Étienne Lajoie August 29, 2017 1 comment
NDP leadership candidates take on Montreal

Candidates talk to The Concordian about the leadership race before their debate at Club Soda

Charlie Angus

The Timmins—James Bay MP wants to tackle housing issues across the country. Referencing his “Housing is a Right” platform, Angus said “the right to adequate housing has to be considered a fundamental human right because the amount of resources that are spent by the state because of homelessness is outrageous.” He said he plans to use the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s $4-billion surplus to finance his housing platform.

As part of his urban agenda, Angus wants to make post-secondary education more accessible. “Bombardier gets interest free loans — why don’t students?” Angus asked. He said the level of interest the government forces young people to pay is “nuts.” Angus also proposed a ban on unpaid internships. Speaking about their use at CBC/Radio-Canada, Angus told The Concordian he “was appalled by the abuse of unpaid internships.” He acknowledged they could be allowed, but that they would “have to be done in a very specific context with an objective for education.”

His campaign also addresses the need to ensure digital inclusion in Canada. Angus said many people in marginalized communities, where inhabitants don’t have internet access, are part of a “growing digital divide.”

Guy Caron

According to Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques MP Guy Caron, climate change refugees are not a problem of the future. “We can already talk about it,” he said. “Climate change is caused by industrialized countries and those nations have a responsibility towards people who are displaced.”

The NDP leadership candidate said he wants to establish better relationships with communities in all regions of Canada and specifically send organizers to Quebec where the NDP lost more than 40 seats in the 2015 federal election. “We missed a big opportunity when we were the official opposition,” Caron told The Concordian. “We should have done a lot of organization.”

Caron’s platform also includes electoral reform. He said that voters might doubt that a candidate can bring about reform, but said Canadians will only be able to confront the challenges of electoral reform if it’s a priority for the government. “Under an NDP government that I will lead, the first draft legislation will be to establish a mixed-member proportional representation system,” said Caron. The economist also told the The Concordian he wants to prevent a destabilization of the Canadian economy, which he predicts will happen due to the automatization of various industries.

Niki Ashton

Churchill—Keewatinook Aski MP Niki Ashton is the only candidate still in school. The candidate’s Ph.D thesis, at the University of Manitoba, is about millennial feminism. “It has influenced my work in the platform we’ve put together as part of this leadership race,” Ashton told The Concordian. She stated that her campaign’s racial justice platform, she said, “makes it very clear that the federal government needs to play a leadership role in addressing the systemic barriers that racialized and Indigenous communities face in our country.”

Ashton’s “Justice for LGBTQ2+ Persons” platform also includes “the repeal of discriminatory blood [donation] ban on gay men” and better access to gender-affirming surgery. “Montreal is the only place one can come to in Canada for [gender-affirming] surgery,” Ashton pointed out in an interview with The Concordian.

Ashton also wants to offer tuition-free post-secondary education across Canada. “It’s unacceptable that we’re indebting a generation for simply doing what is asked of them, which is to get an education,” Ashton said. Her plan also includes ending discrimination against international students by regulating the cost of tuition so these students “do not face exponential rate increases year over year.”

“Institutions are making a profit off of people who are coming — yes, getting an education — but contributing immensely to Canadian society,” Ashton explained.

Jagmeet Singh

Singh is the only candidate who is not currently an NDP federal MP. The former Ontario NDP deputy leader is an MP for Bramalea—Gore—Malton in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. It’s unclear if Singh will run as a federal MP if he loses the leadership race. When asked by Charlie Angus during the debate what his plan was if he lost, Singh answered: “With respect, I won’t lose.”

Singh’s “Temp Agency Workers” platform demonstrates that he wants to “ensure that all workers employed through a temporary job agency under federal jurisdiction receive the same wages, benefits and working conditions as permanent full-time workers.” The Ontario MP wants to launch an LGBTQI2S+ Youth Housing Initiative “because services designed to assist homeless youth are often unsafe or inaccessible to members of that community”. Like fellow candidate Niki Ashton, Singh wants to repeal the blood donation ban for gay men and transgender women.

The candidate’s platform also includes establishing a basic income for Canadians with disabilities, which will receive funding from multiple sources such as “new tax brackets on high income earners” and by “closing corporate tax loopholes.”

Photo by Kirubel Mehari

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