Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 02, 2014 - 5:24 pm

NDP leader Mulcair slams PM Harper’s northern record

“He doesn’t have a plan. It’s all photo-ops”

JIM BELL
Thomas Mulcair, leader of the official opposition in the House of Commons and national leader of the New Democratic Party, speaks to a reporter Sept. 2 at the Karibrew Café in Iqaluit during a visit to the community. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Thomas Mulcair, leader of the official opposition in the House of Commons and national leader of the New Democratic Party, speaks to a reporter Sept. 2 at the Karibrew Café in Iqaluit during a visit to the community. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)

When asked what he thinks about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s northern strategy, Thomas Mulcair doesn’t hold back.

“He doesn’t have a plan. It’s all photo-ops,” Mulcair told Nunatsiaq News Sept. 2 in a short interview in Iqaluit.

Mulcair, the national leader of the New Democratic Party and the leader of the official opposition in the House of Commons, is visiting Iqaluit this week with Romeo Saganash, the NDP MP for Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik- Eeyou.

In an interview, Mulcair said Harper’s record on northern issues is all talk and no action, and he slammed the Conservative government for a long list of stalled northern projects, including its Arctic patrol vessel program, the unfinished naval station at Nanisivik and the long–promised Coast Guard vessel, the John G. Diefenbaker.

And he accused Harper’s government of ignoring issues like Iqaluit’s need for a deepwater port, Nunavut’s need for better waste management infrastructure, and he accused them of “gutting” national environmental regulations.

At the same time, he said he’s “thankful” that Nunavut received federal money to help build the new Iqaluit airport, referring to a $73 million contribution Nunavut received from P3 Canada.

As for Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, the environment minister, said “it’s difficult to convey our disappointment with her record,” Mulcair said.

“She said she didn’t believe climate change is a problem… and then corrected herself afterwards,” Mulcair said.

That’s in reference to a CTV television interview in October 2013, when, in the opinion of some people, Aglukkaq appeared to cast doubt on the science of climate change.

While promising that an NDP government would provide better protection for the environment than the current Conservative regime, Mulcair said his party is not against resource development.

As an example, he cited a speech he gave to a mining conference in Toronto this past February, when he had this to say to the mining industry: “I want you to succeed.”

And he said that on relations with Aboriginal peoples, industry may actually have a better record than the Conservative government.

Resource developers now know they must respect Aboriginal rights and title, and are better at building relationships with affected communities, Mulcair said.

“The companies are ahead of the government on this,” he said.

If elected to government in a federal election that must be held on or before Oct. 19, 2015, Mulcair said the NDP would ensure that government actions affecting Aborigional land claims agreement and treaties would be brought to the cabinet table and examined to ensure the Crown is fulfilling its duties.

He also said that in next year’s election, the NDP will “put a lot of effort into Nunavut” to ensure that Aglukkaq is defeated, should she choose to run again.

And an NDP government would reduce the cost of food for northerners and improve the northern residents tax deduction by allowing it to rise with the cost of living.

Last week, Mulcair announced that, if elected, an NDP government would also call a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women within it’s first 100 days.

Mulcair and Saganash were to appear at a town hall event scheduled for Iqaluit’s francophone centre at 6 p.m. Sept. 2.

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