Singh says Prairie premiers ‘distracting’ from real issues, need to ‘do better’

Jagmeet Singh
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to reporters following a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says that clearly “people are feeling neglected” by Ottawa, but that the way the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are going about raising those concerns are “distracting” from the “real” problems.

In an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period, Singh said that the issues and pressures Albertans and Saskatchewanians are facing are real, but are being felt in “many provinces.”

While discussing what his priorities will be for the new Parliament, including more action on climate change, Singh was asked about the ongoing conversation around western alienation and the requests being made by Premiers Jason Kenney and Scott Moe and what the NDP caucus’ response would be to the Liberals moving ahead with targeted measures for that region of the country.

“I want to see commitments at the federal level to help out those folks,” Singh said during a wide-ranging interview in which the NDP Leader also spoke about the intersection of his personal and spiritual beliefs, and why propping up the Liberal minority may be dependent on the promises in the throne speech.

“People are feeling neglected and ignored by Ottawa,” Singh said. “What Conservative premiers are doing is distracting from the real problem.”

He cited the health care and education systems, and the challenge in finding jobs as examples of the “real” issues.

Singh—who has just one elected MP in Alberta and none in Saskatchewan— opposes the Trans Mountain pipeline project that many in Alberta view as integral to their economic stability, and supports tougher environmental regulations.

As CTV Edmonton reported last week, Kenney announced that he would be creating a “Fair Deal Panel” to look into ending several arrangements with the federal government, including opting out of federal cost-share programs like a proposed pharmacare plan that Singh is a vocal proponent of; and enacting a system in which schools need provincial signoff before entering into federal government agreements.

In the interview Singh suggested that Alberta has to diversify its economy instead of doubling down on oil and gas. The Kenney government has previously said that becoming less dependent on oil and gas is a long-term initiative, though there have been steps taken.

“They need to do better,” Singh said.

“They need to be an economy that’s not subject to the whims of one commodity that might go up and down in price and that could completely upturn their economy,” Singh said. “What they need to do is this: They need to be committed to job creation, they need to be committed to making sure they have a diverse economy that creates real opportunities that aren’t subject to the global whims of a market that can go volatile up and down.”

Singh said he is open to looking at the equalization formula to make sure that it’s still working and fair.

“The future we know is a future where we’re fighting the climate crisis while creating jobs. There has to be a path that’s laid out where we show workers that there is a path to create jobs… that’s what people need to see and to hear and to feel, so that they’re not worried about their future,” Singh said.

SINGH WANTS ‘CONCRETE’ LANGUAGE IN THRONE SPEECH

In addition to action on climate change and job creation, Singh said that he wants to see “timelines” and “some real concrete commitments” for pharmacare and dental care in next month’s Liberal throne speech, otherwise he is prepared to vote against it.

“I want something concrete,” Singh said, downplaying questions of whether he is over exaggerating the bargaining position he will have in forth-party status, given the Bloc Quebecois’ indicated intention to work collaboratively with the Liberals so long as they stay out of provincial secularism matters.

Singh said it’s different to have the support of an NDP caucus that he says will be “fighting actively” for improvements to Liberal initiatives than the backing of a party that would just “not get in the way.”

“The Liberals can work with other people, there’s no question about it. The difference is that we’re actually fighting for things that Canadians want,” Singh said.

SAYS PERSONAL, SPIRITUAL BELIEFS ALIGNED

In light of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer being asked about his personal and religious views on social issues like same-sex marriage, Singh was asked whether as a Sikh he believes that being gay is a sin.

“No.”

He was asked whether he supported same-sex marriage.

“Yes.. I support it all the way.”

And does he support the right of women to access abortion?

“Yes, absolutely, without any question.”

Singh said that his personal and religious beliefs are “completely aligned.”

“My beliefs spiritually are fully in line with supporting same-sex marriage, supporting a woman’s right to choose. I have no, any sort of ambiguity with my personal, spiritual beliefs,” Singh said.

Asked whether it was appropriate for these kinds of questions to be asked of federal leaders, Singh said that he thinks it gives people confidence in his stance.

“In my case, people can be very confident that both my spiritual, my personal, my beliefs as a leader are all in line with my values, which are to support a woman’s right to choose, which is to support same-sex marriage, which is to fight for equality and fairness for Canadians, so people can have that confidence with me.”

SOURCE

BC Fed: To Tackle Economic Insecurity, Workers Need an NDP Government

Why BC’s labour federation is endorsing the party led by Jagmeet Singh

[Editor’s note: Readers may be wondering which of the federal parties has earned the support of the labour movement, given the national arm, the Canadian Labour Congress, is not endorsing anybody this election. However, the BC Federation of Labour has now weighed in with this op-ed submitted to The Tyee.]

JagmeetSinghMontreal.jpg
‘Jagmeet speaks to the struggles facing so many Canadians in this moment of rising precarious work and economic anxiety.’ Photo by Valerie Blum, EPA.

This week, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh joined striking hotel workers on a Vancouver picket line. He marched and chanted with hundreds of workers who had been out of work for over three weeks and voiced his support for their fight for safe working conditions, stable employment, and fair wages.

To us, Jagmeet’s support for these workers was much more than a campaign photo-op. It was a show of character and values.

Jagmeet used the opportunity to speak to the struggles facing so many Canadians in this moment of rising precarious work and economic anxiety for workers and their families. It was yet more evidence of a campaign that has made clear who Jagmeet is fighting for: working people. By taking time out from a busy campaign to show workers he cares, he exemplified the kind of principles, and leadership, we sorely need in a Prime Minister.

The NDP is currently enjoying a surge in support and excitement. It should be no surprise. When you have a clear focus on tackling inequality, taking on powerful interests, and investing in public programs, it tends to resonate with people, too many of whom are living pay cheque to pay cheque.

While the Conservatives and Liberals have focused their campaign messages on meagre competing tax cuts, Jagmeet has talked about big ideas. He has talked about tax fairness and being a voice for working people rather than the rich and wealthy. Indeed, the NDP has stressed the need for a new tax on the super-wealthy with fortunes over $20 million. That tax will not only help reduce economic inequality, it is part of ambitious plans to raise new revenues to fund access to new and expanded public programs.

Canada’s public health care system is rightly something Canadians are proud of. But Jagmeet has campaigned to improve on the status quo, to reduce costs and improve the lives of millions of Canadians through universal access. This includes creating a public pharmacare plan to pay for drug costs, and a public program to finally include free dental care in the health system.

The NDP is also offering solutions on three other affordability challenges that British Columbians know too well, promising a massive investment in new affordable housing, committing to forgive interest on student loans, and creating a desperately needed universal child-care program.

Under Jagmeet, the NDP has also been clear on the need for bold climate action with investments in clean energy, rapid transit and building retrofits from coast to coast to coast. The NDP’s plan includes recognizing Indigenous rights and ensuring workers in existing fossil fuel-related industries have meaningful supports during the shift to a green economy, while also ensuring green jobs are family- and community-supporting jobs. MORE

 

Singh walks fine line on Trans Mountain pipeline and possible Liberal coalition

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, right, and his wife Gurkiran Kaur, left, cast their ballets at an advanced polling station in his Burnaby South riding during a campaign stop in Burnaby, B.C., on Sunday, October 13, 2019.

SURREY, B.C.— NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tried to strike a precarious balance Sunday between his opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline and the mounting possibility of a coalition with Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

Singh is drawing a firm line: he said he will do whatever it takes — including a possible coalition with the Liberals — to keep the Conservatives from forming a government.

But he walked a finer line when pressed Sunday on whether, if the NDP did find itself holding the balance of power after Oct. 21, the Trans Mountain pipeline project would scuttle any co-operation with Trudeau and his MPs.

“I am firmly opposed to the pipeline. I’ve been opposed to it. I will continue to fight against it and it’s absolutely one of my priorities,” Singh told a crowd of supporters in Surrey B.C.

“I won’t negotiate a future government right now, but I will tell people what my priorities are and absolutely my priority is to fight that pipeline.”

Singh offered a first glimpse of the possibility of leaving the door open to working with the Liberals — in spite of his strong stance against the pipeline — following the French debate earlier this week. Since the Liberals had already purchased the pipeline, he said, he would “work on ensuring that we are as responsible as possible with moving forward with an asset that I would not have bought.”

Singh is also walking a political tightrope when it comes to where he currently stands on liquefied natural gas (LNG) development in B.C.

A single protester disrupted the beginning of his rally Sunday, shouting obscenities at the NDP leader and voicing his opposition to the $40 billion LNG project in northern British Columbia.

The project will see LNG Canada export natural gas obtained by fracking. It has the support of the provincial NDP government in B.C.

In January, Singh voiced support for the project. But several months later, not long after the NDP suffered a byelection defeat at the hands of the Greens in the riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith, he came out against fracking — a position he reiterated Sunday.

Asked for his current position on the project, Singh sidestepped the question, saying only that he supports the B.C. government’s plans to reduce emissions as the “most ambitious climate action plan in North America.” MORE

Abolishing the Senate would see Canadians better represented, NDP leader says

An image of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh taken on Oct. 11, 2019.
 An image of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh taken on Oct. 11, 2019. Global News

Abolishing the Senate would give Canadians better representation, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said on Tuesday, doubling down on his party’s long-standing pledge to ditch Parliament’s chamber of sober second thought.

During a campaign stop in the Toronto riding former NDP leader Jack Layton once held, Singh said senators represent the interests of the political parties that appointed them, not Canadians.

“The reality is the Senate doesn’t really represent people,” he told reporters.

“They represent the Liberal party, they represent the Conservative party. They don’t represent the people and their interests. They’re more interested in being a mouthpiece for the political parties that appointed them.”

Federal Election 2019: Liberals ‘talk progressive but govern conservative’: Singh
Singh’s pledge to abolish the Senate, though, would be no easy constitutional feat. SOURCE

It’s a No-Brainer — Tax the Billionaires!

A wealth tax wouldn’t just bring in revenue. It would curb the out-of-control political power of the one per cent.

JagmeetSinghSpeaksPodium.jpgThe NDP under leader Jagmeet Singh promises to implement a one-per-cent tax on wealth over $20 million. It’s an idea whose time has come. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press.

Canadians can be smug when it comes to comparing our political debate to politics in the United States. But we’re way behind our American neighbours when it comes to fair taxes on the accumulated wealth of the billionaire class.

Here, we’re still hearing the same tired arguments against a wealth tax.

But in the U.S., the debate now includes a serious discussion of how much we should tax wealth. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, both back a wealth tax but debate how high it should be.

Sanders has set out the foundation for his version of the tax bluntly. “Billionaires should not exist,” he’s stated. That’s not an attack on the individuals, but a statement that a relatively few people should not control so much of society’s shared resources.

And he’s right. Nobody “earns” a billion dollars. Such sums are only redistributed from the collective effort of many into the hands of the few.

Taxing the wealth of billionaires and the rest of the one per cent increases government revenue for programs or services for everyone.

More importantly, it decreases the ability of the wealthy to shape and control our political, social and economic life. The wealthy bankroll political campaigns and fund an entire infrastructure of media, lobbyists and think tanks to further a simple agenda — maintaining their disproportionate privileges. A wealth tax is about redistributing power as much as it is about redistributing wealth. It’s about restoring democracy.

And it’s sound economic policy. Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, two of the world’s top scholars of inequality, have dedicated much time to assembling the wonky details that demonstrate the benefits of a wealth tax. Among other important voices, the two UC Berkeley economists have shown how a wealth tax could be practically implemented to tackle inequality, addressing issues like the challenge of assessing wealth and minimizing evasion.

The conversation about the wealth tax in the U.S. should help clarify the discussion here. The research and analysis have debunked the common arguments against taxing wealth.

Some argue the wealth tax is self-defeating: the wealthy will hide their wealth or simply flee.

But the wealthy, while mobile, are also human and hold many personal connections to place that can be more powerful than their desire to pay less in taxes.

More importantly, while it may be relatively simple for a wealthy person to move, it’s not that easy for many forms of wealth to move or disappear. They are not hiding money under the mattress. Factories, offices, land and other physical things that constitute wealth largely stay in place, even when ownership changes or moves. They will still be useful and productive.

Another common argument against taxing wealth is that it’s too hard or costly to figure out how much wealth a person has. This objection ignores two important facts about wealth today.

First, many of the assets held by the ultra-rich are financial. Stocks, mutual funds, bonds and the like have well-defined value. Anyone can look up the price of a stock or bond. Forbes has a made science of calculating the wealth of the richest Americans. If a magazine can do it, so can governments.

And second, both the U.S. and Canada already have taxes on wealth, just not taxes on all wealth. Property taxes on real estate exist in most jurisdictions. They are levied based on detailed annual assessments; the same could be done for other forms of wealth.

Together, property tax assessments and financial markets would allow governments to assess the value of financial holdings and real estate, which together account for most wealth.

Zucman points out that the trouble of creating annual assessments is actually an argument in favour of regularly taxing wealth. Once the process is in place, it produces increasingly accurate results that can be used to better tax estates and help with public administration. SOURCE

Ontario Federation of Labour endorses NDP and Jagmeet Singh

Ontarians have learned first-hand just how much social and economic damage a Conservative government can do: OFL

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh waves from his campaign airplane after a campaign stop, in Miramichi, N.B. – Andrew Vaughan , The Canadian Press

The Ontario Federation of Labour is proud to endorse Jagmeet Singh and the NDP, the only party in it for you, for working Canadians, and not for corporate CEOs and the ultra-rich.

The NDP has always been the only party that consistently listens and best represents the needs of working people across this country. It is New Democrats, led by Jagmeet Singh, who would govern for the many.

On Oct. 21, Ontarians have an opportunity to set Canada’s government on a path that will ensure an economy that works for everyone, that will tackle the climate crisis by regulating Canada’s largest industrial polluters, provide head-to-toe health care: pharma care, mental health care, and dental care for all, and tackle wealth inequality by applying a 1 per cent tax on fortunes over $20 million, raising billions for public services.

It is time to elect a government that puts equity and inclusion at the forefront.

Working people know how hard it is for families to make ends meet. Canada’s next government must ensure decent laws to stop the growth of precarious jobs that leave working people struggling to meet basic needs. The NDP has made a commitment to a $15 federal minimum wage and a living wage within their first mandate. The Canada-wide reality is that there are twice as many people working for minimum wage now as there were 20 years ago.

In the last 18 months, Ontarians have learned first-hand just how much social and economic damage a Conservative government can do.

Premier Doug Ford is well on his way to tearing apart the social safety net in the province. He is sacrificing the environment for profit. One of the first things the Conservatives did was to cancel the cap-and trade program. Then, they froze the minimum wage at $14 an hour. Cuts to public services just keep on coming: cuts to health care, cuts to program funding for kids with autism, cuts to education.

Many students have been left unable to graduate on schedule because their schools don’t have funds to deliver the courses they need. Many students, unable to pay tuition due to government cuts to post-secondary funding, have been forced to withdraw from university and college.

Andrew Scheer will govern Canada with the same philosophy as Doug Ford, and poses a threat to human rights as well — he has refused to retract his own homophobic comments, and has stood by candidates who hold right-wing extremist views.

The Liberal Party has also failed working people. As photos of the prime minister have shown, the Liberals do not always practice what they preach. They campaign left but govern right. The Liberals also lied about electoral reform, pushed Canada’s first Indigenous Attorney General out of Cabinet and their party, and made it clear they believe in one set of laws for corporations like SNC Lavalin but another for the rest of us. SOURCE

 

Jagmeet Singh says he ‘wasn’t joking’ on hoping Donald Trump is impeached

NDP leader unconcerned that hoping for Trump’s impeachment may imperil his relationship with U.S.


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tells the audience at his Victoria town hall that he was not joking when he quipped Thursday that he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached. (CBC)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told a town hall audience in Victoria that he was serious when he said that he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached.

Asked Friday by CBC News if it was wise for someone running to be prime minister to joke, as he did the previous evening, that he hoped Trump would be impeached, Singh replied, “I wasn’t joking.”

The line garnered applause from the audience.

On Thursday evening, the NDP leader said he hopes Trump “gets impeached” when asked what would he say first to the U.S. president if he was prime minister.

“I hope he gets impeached before I get to speak to him,” said Singh, while hosting a town hall event in Nanaimo, B.C. “I say that a little tongue-in-cheek.”

Singh said it is “disgusting that the president could inflame hatred against people and be so divisive.”

“It’s horrible that someone in a position of power like him would allow for kids to be stripped from the arms of their parents, from their moms,” he said. “That needs to be denounced.”

Singh has already heavily criticized Trump for the U.S. government’s separation of migrant children from their parents in immigration detention centres at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“You can’t allow someone like that to do that without any sort of repercussion, without anyone else condemning that,” Singh said Thursday night. “And I condemn it.” MORE

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