Thomas Mulcair announces automotive strategy during rally in Windsor
By Justin Prince
The federal New Democratic Party leader says he plans to get the motor running on the automotive industry.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair was cheered by an estimated crowd of more than 300 people during his visit at the Fogolar Furlan Club of Windsor on July 22. The 60-year-old party leader flashed multiple smiles as he explained the NDP's platform for this fall's upcoming election to an energetic crowd. Among the main points discussed was his party’s plan to kick-start the automotive industry in Southwestern Ontario. The rally was part of the NDP's Ontario Tour for Change, which started July 20.
"It's time manufacturing in Southwestern Ontario had a champion. It's time auto had a champion, and friends, I'll be that champion," said Mulcair, who has led the party since 2012. "I will never waver from a rock-solid commitment to work with the automakers, to work with the province to attract investment in auto assembly in this great city ... together, we can get Windsor and Canada on track."
The atmosphere throughout the event was cheerful and energetic. NDP supporters could be heard chanting “Change!” and “NDP!” as the night went on. With every point mentioned, the crowd lifted up their orange and white Mulcair signs and cheered as loud as they could. By the end of the event, Mulcair was signing autographs and taking selfies with his supporters.
“It was very affirming. There is a lot of energy here (in Windsor),” said NDP Windsor-Tecumseh MP candidate and former Deputy Mayor of Tecumseh Cheryl Hardcastle. “People are really ready for change in Ottawa and to have Mulcair come down here and connect with each person, to basically say that ‘as Canadians, you make a difference and together we can do this,’ that’s the energy we all felt in there.”
As part of his automotive plans, Mulcair said he would work with the Ontario provincial government to streamline the support process for attracting investment. He also plans to set targets for auto jobs and research and development for Ontario auto czar and former Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada CEO Ray Tanguay. Mulcair said he would unveil more details about his plans in the coming weeks. He had previously presented near-identical plans to support the manufacturing industry by creating a new tax credit for research and development in Cambridge, Ont. July 20 and prior to that in 2014. For Mulcair, supporting the manufacturing industry has become increasingly important because as his party handout stated, manufacturing jobs account for 17 per cent of employment in Windsor.
“We’ve always fought for those good-paying manufacturing jobs and protecting those jobs,” said Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. “When you’ve got the only federal leader nationally that’s putting forward a plan for an automotive strategy, that’s exciting and that’s what our region in Southwestern Ontario needed to hear.”
A majority of the points mentioned during Mulcair’s speech were previously announced before coming to Windsor. Some of those points included creating one million new daycare spaces at a cost of $15-per-day, creating a federal minimum wage of $15-per-hour and reducing the small business tax rate from 11 per cent to nine per cent. Earlier in the day, Mulcair reintroduced his Farm-to-Fork plan for farmers in Chatham-Kent County, which included creating a payment plan to support produce farmers and maintaining Canada’s supply management system. He also stressed the importance of creating new jobs.
“Today, there are 200,000 more out-of-work Canadians than before the recession. Too many jobs that are being created are part-time and precarious … For the first time in our country’s history, current generations will be worse off than their parents and let’s never have it happen again,” said Mulcair. “Clearly, Mr. (Stephen) Harper’s plan isn’t working … We will repair the damage Harper has done and set Canada on the right path. Okay, on the left path.”
Although the rally would seem to suggest NDP will see success in the upcoming federal election, there is still a lot of work to do by this autumn. Mulcair and the NDP are on top of most polls, but critics have been against some of Mulcair’s plans in recent months. For example, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said they were against both the NDP’s daycare facility plan and a proposed childcare benefit by the Liberal Party of Canada. That proposal is expected to cost from $290 million to $1.9 billion a year over the first four years of the program. A similar program currently costs the Quebec provincial government $2 billion a year.
Natyshak said those costs come with changes in the government’s focus.
“For far too long, we’ve put all of our eggs in one basket and that’s translated to an imbalance across the country,” said Natyshak. “When you have someone who’s ready to shift those focuses, shift those priorities, then there’s a lot of management that has to be made and a lot of changes that have to be made … I think it’s a plan Canadians want to and are ready to adapt and to adopt.”
If you are still questioning who you want to vote for in the upcoming election, there will be more opportunities for you to learn about the parties. Katie Omstead, the federal Liberal candidate for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, will be holding a grand opening event for her new office location in Leamington on July 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.