Jagmeet Singh unveils NDP critic roles ahead of Parliament’s return next week

NDP leader appoints himself critic for intergovernmental affairs and Indigenous issues

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh unveiled his shadow cabinet in Ottawa this morning. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh unveiled his shadow cabinet in Ottawa this morning, giving himself two portfolios that are expected to loom large in the upcoming Parliamentary session: intergovernmental affairs and Indigenous issues.

“Because justice for Indigenous people is so important, because having access to clean drinking water is so important, among so many other basic human rights, and because this government is still continuing to appeal the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal and is effectively taking Indigenous kids to court, I have named myself as the critic for Indigenous services and Indigenous-Crown relations,” Singh told reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons this morning.

“It’s so important for us that, as leader, I’m going to take on that responsibility.”

Singh has been a vocal opponent of the government’s decision to appeal a court ruling on child welfare compensation for Indigenous children, signalling that it will be one of the NDP’s key targets in the upcoming session.

As critic for intergovernmental affairs, Singh will go head-to-head with deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland during question period, which briefly resumes next week. As minister of intergovernmental affairs, Freeland is tasked with easing provincial tensions and holding the federation together in a period of deep economic anxiety in much of Western Canada.

Singh’s inner circle remains largely unchanged since the last session. The party’s lone Quebec MP, Alexandre Boulerice, will stay on as deputy leader. He’ll also be the critic for Canadian economic development for Quebec regions, and for Canadian heritage

Re-elected New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian will keep his job as House leader and will take on the role of finance critic.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has named himself as the new critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations, Indigenous Services and Intergovernmental Affairs. 1:05

Windsor West MP Brian Masse remains caucus chair and will take on the critic role for digital government, the Great Lakes, telecommunications and innovation, science and industry.

North Island-Powell River’s Rachel Blaney will continue on as whip and become the NDP critic for veterans affairs.

Singh criticized the Liberals for naming Mona Fortier as minister of “middle class prosperity” without defining her mandate.Longtime Ontario New Democrat MP Charlie Angus will take on the role of critic for income inequality and affordability, and for the federal economic development initiative for northern Ontario and Indigenous youth.

Singh also made a point of naming a critic for democratic reform, which isn’t a defined minister’s role in the Liberal cabinet anymore. The NDP has long pushed to replace Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system.

“People have been pointing out that this electoral system is fraught with injustice and it does not allow people’s voices to be heard,” he said.

The other NDP critic roles are:

  • Niki Ashton: public ownership, transport
  • Don Davies: health
  • Carol Hughes: official languages
  • Randall Garrison: defence, justice, sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Daniel Blaikie: democratic reform, employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, export promotion and international trade, western economic diversification
  • Richard Cannings: natural resources
  • Scott Duvall: the federal economic development agency for southern Ontario, labour, pensions and seniors
  • Gord Johns: economic development, fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, small business, tourism
  • Jenny Kwan: housing, immigration, refugees and citizenship
  • Alistair MacGregor: agriculture and rural economic development
  • Taylor Bachrach: infrastructure and communities
  • Laurel Collins: caucus vice chair and critic for environment and climate change
  • Leah Gazan: families, children and social development
  • Matthew Green: national revenue, public services and procurement, Treasury Board
  • Jack Harris: the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, foreign affairs, public safety and emergency preparedness
  • Lindsay Mathyssen: deputy whip and critic for diversity, inclusion and youth, post-secondary education, women and gender equality
  • Heather McPherson: deputy House leader, critic for international development
  • Mumilaaq Qaqqaq: critic for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, northern affairs

Trudeau is betting his entire government on the fight against climate change

Last time, climate change was just one item in a crowded throne speech. Now, it’s centre-stage.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette delivers the throne speech in the Senate chamber in Ottawa. (Chris Wattie/Canadian Press)

Talk is cheap and everything is easier said than done — but a throne speech, by its very nature, can only be measured by its words. And the two most prominent words in the official remarks that opened the 43rd Parliament were “climate” and “change.”

“Canada’s children and grandchildren will judge this generation by its action — or inaction — on the defining challenge of the time: climate change,” Gov. Gen. Julie Payette said, delivering the most striking sentence of Thursday’s 3,300-word speech.

The word “climate” appears 11 times in the speech. It first appears in the first section of the speech — the part that is, by tradition, set aside for the Queen’s representative to offer a few opening thoughts.

If climate change is the defining political issue of the age, Justin Trudeau’s government will be judged by how it navigates the opportunities and risks it presents — opportunities and risks that were laid bare by the recent election and will now play out over the course of this Parliament.

By the measure of its words, this throne speech serves as a sort of benchmark of how much has changed in just six years.

In 2013, in the waning days of Stephen Harper’s government, Julie Payette’s immediate predecessor, David Johnston, delivered a speech from the throne that ran on for more than 7,000 words. It was the longest throne speech of the last 30 years — and not once did it mention the word “climate.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper welcomes Gov. Gen. David Johnston as he arrives to deliver the speech from the throne in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday Oct. 16, 2013. (Justin Tang/CP)

There was a glancing reference in the speech to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but only at the 4,600-word mark — after long sections on balancing the federal budget, reducing the size of government, creating jobs, expanding trade, developing natural resources, supporting farmers, building infrastructure, cutting taxes, supporting small businesses and “defending Canadian consumers.”

Two years and an election later, the need for a “clean environment” merited its own section in the Trudeau government’s 1,700-word opening statement. But “the environment” still only ran third among the government’s broad areas of concern, behind “growth for the middle class” and “open and transparent government.”

“First and foremost, the government believes that all Canadians should have a real and fair chance to succeed,” Johnston declared on behalf of Trudeau in 2015. “Central to that success is a strong and growing middle class.”

Climate change moves to the political centre

The “middle class” — shorthand for economic security and broadly shared prosperity — was the spine of the Trudeau agenda, a strong foundation that could support priorities like reconciliation, gender equality, diversity, political reform and combating climate change.

On Thursday, climate change was front and centre.

Governor General Julie Payette shares a laugh with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before delivering the Throne Speech in the Senate chamber, Thursday December 5, 2019 in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

In December 2019, fighting climate change feels like the overarching cause in Canadian federal politics, the thing that everything else must work toward. It’s not just a moral imperative — it’s a political one as well. Payette reminds parliamentarians they share a ‘space-time continuum’

As the fall’s federal election demonstrated, climate change now defines the gulf between the political left in Canada (who are very eager to do something to reduce this country’s emissions) and the right (who are not).

But the Liberals do not have the left to themselves.

More than 60 per cent of voters in October cast a ballot for a candidate whose party supported a price on carbon, but those votes were split between the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Greens. In the short and medium terms, if the Liberals are to advance an agenda through this Parliament, they’ll do it, more often than not, with the cooperation of the Bloc or NDP. MORE


Ottawa in court this week over First Nations child-welfare compensation order

Federal government also in talks to settle proposed class action lawsuit on First Nations child welfare

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, has been trying to get the federal government to compensate First Nations children since 2007. (Simon Gohier/CBC)

One of the most loaded and emotional issues facing the new Justin Trudeau government on its reconciliation agenda is heading to Federal Court over the next two days.

Justice Canada lawyers are set to argue against compensating First Nations children impacted by the on-reserve child welfare system.

In September, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered Ottawa to pay $40,000 to each First Nations child affected by the on-reserve child welfare system since 2006. The compensation order followed a 2016 tribunal decision that found the federal government discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding the on-reserve child welfare system.

Ottawa has said the tribunal order could cost up to $8 billion and filed for a judicial review in October calling for the Federal Court to quash it, leading to two days of hearings beginning Monday on related legal manoeuvres.

The decision to challenge the order has drawn widespread condemnation from First Nations leaders, the NDP and the Green Party, and human rights organizations like Amnesty International.

Ottawa seeking stay of order

Ottawa will argue before the Federal Court on Monday that it should stay — or pause — the tribunal order until the judicial review application gets decided.

Ottawa has argued in court filings that the tribunal order was an overreach and that the original case was about systemic discrimination, which required a systemic fix, not individual compensation, which is the purview of class action law.

Justice Minister David Lametti said the federal government wants to settle the matter through negotiations. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Federal Court will also hear arguments from the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations against the stay, so that Ottawa will be forced to discuss how a compensation model could work.

Cindy Blackstock, who heads the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society which filed the original human rights complaint in 2007 with the support of the AFN, said the government has been aware since that time that it could face a compensation order.

“Integrity is when words have meaning and, so far, this government’s had no integrity. It has really been putting out public statements to protect itself or to get itself a pat on the back,” said Blackstock.

“Well they’ve been ordered to make change overnight and they should be complying with the law, just like everyone else does.”

The tribunal has ordered all sides in the case — Ottawa, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations — to negotiate a method for dealing with the mechanics of the compensation and present it by Dec. 10. MORE

Should billionaires continue to exist?

How taxing wealth could tackle both wealth concentration and the climate crisis


Wealth taxation is back on the progressive political agenda. It is both a refreshing new idea and a return to vogue of a policy established decade ago in Europe. Some remember it as part of François Mitterrand’s 110 propositions pour France, a joint electoral platform in 1981 with the Communist Party that carried him into the Élysée Palace. The solidarity tax on wealth survived multiple right-wing presidents, only to fall recently to President Macron.

Even so, it is an idea whose time has come in North America. It continues to exist in three OECD countries, and both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of the leading three Democratic contenders for U.S. president, have a plan to tax wealth in their platforms. The NDP also included a proposal for a wealth tax in its 2019 election platform, which was met with backlash and bad-faith critiques from the usual suspects.

Matthew Lau, who has written for the right-wing Fraser Institute and Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, called it “class warfare” and “confiscatory” in a Financial Post column. This was followed by another piece in the same publication by the Montreal Economic Institute’s Gael Campman, who claimed taxing wealth would be a “tragic mistake,” seemingly oblivious to the existence of property taxes in Canada. Calling it a “demagogic ploy that ends up being counterproductive,” Campman brings up the prospect of the widely discredited “Laffer effect” of falling tax revenues from increasing taxation.

In a slightly more serious challenge, Robin Broadway and Pierre Pestieau call the wealth tax “Over the Top” in their recent C.D. Howe paper of the same name, stating that it isn’t needed, and it would be more efficient to raise taxes on capital gains. Why not do both? Recent studies such as the CCPA’s Born to Win have shown that Canada’s wealthiest 87 families now own the same amount as the lowest-earning 12 million Canadians, which is approximately equivalent to what everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick collectively owns. In Canada, just two billionaires (David Thompson and Galen Weston) own as much wealth as a third of Canadians.

A bold tax policy package is sorely needed to address this kind of wealth hoarding, which contributes to soaring inequality. Along with a host of other progressive measures, the wealth tax in particular sits in the enviable position of being at the nexus of both good policy and good politics.

According to a recent Ipsos poll, 67% of Canadians believe that “Canada’s economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.” Another poll conducted by Abacus Data found that 67% of Canadians also support the idea of a wealth tax, including 58% of Canadians self-identifying as “right-wing” and 64% of those who say they are in the political “centre.”


In his critique of the NDP’s modest wealth tax proposal, Campman alleges it would force poor farmers to sell their land and cause capital flight. Lau asks how the tax could work when wealth in financial assets can vary day by day depending on the stock market. As the OECD has pointed out, there are ways of getting around all these problems.

The best wealth tax systems have a series of exemptions regarding most forms of middle class wealth, such as pensions and primary homes, as well as exemptions for agricultural property. Assessments can occur every 3–5 years with options to apply for reassessment if a significant change in value occurs, and payments can be made in instalments for those taxpayers facing liquidity constraints.

Wealth taxes can apply to both domestic and international assets, be tied to citizenship and be negotiated by international tax treaties—to eliminate the incentive for capital flight. As proposed by Elizabeth Warren, you can introduce an “exit tax” at the same rate as an estate tax to seize assets from those who do choose to renounce their citizenship. With a rigorous enforcement regime, along with legislation to tackle tax havens, taxing wealth isn’t a pie-in-the-sky or unrealistic idea. It just takes political commitment and good policy design.

Casting aside the nitty gritty, the fundamental question we really should be asking ourselves when we design our wealth tax is should we allow billionaires to continue to exist?

Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, two economists at the University of California, Berkeley who advised Elizabeth Warren on her wealth tax proposal, write that the “revenue maximizing rate” runs as high as 6.5%—far beyond the NDP proposal of 1%. According to the economists, such a low rate would provide permanent revenues due to its quite limited effect on wealth concentration. Higher rates of wealth taxation, say, up to 10%, would more effectively dismantle entrenched wealth concentration over time with the trade-off being the loss of a permanent and reliable source of tax revenue.

Bernie Sanders’s recently unveiled wealth tax plan would cut in half the wealth of the typical billionaire over 15 years, according to Saez and Zucman. When the New York Times interviewed Sanders about his plan, they asked if he thought billionaires should exist in the United States. “I hope the day comes when they don’t,” he responded, adding, “It’s not going to be tomorrow.”

Sanders’s wealth tax (see box) is much more aggressive and much more steeply progressive than Warren’s plan, which begins at a 2% tax on wealth above US$50 million and adds an additional 1% surtax above the billion-dollar mark. The revenue differences are large: over 10 years, Warren’s plan would raise US$2.75 trillion while Sanders’s would raise US$4.35 trillion. The other significant difference is how the Sanders plan obliterates wealth concentration while Warren’s plan has a much more limited effect due to the fact that the wealth of the richest Americans grows at an average rate of 6.6% a year.

By comparison, the NDP’s plan for a 1% flat tax rate on wealth above $20 million seems quite modest. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates the NDP proposal would rake in approximately $70 billion over 10 years, a value that includes the assumption that revenues from the wealth tax will be reduced by about 35% due to tax avoidance.

Rather than being “confiscatory,” as Lau suggests, Saez and Zucman write that “the marginal utility of a billionaire’s wealth is close to zero” and therefore “the revenue consequences of taxing billionaires outweigh the welfare consequences on billionaires.” Imagine for a moment what we could do if Canada plowed $70 billion into reducing poverty, fighting climate change or tackling the housing crisis. Canada’s oil barons can manage with one less yacht.


We can see that a wealth tax would be good for redistribution. What of wealth concentration? Should we not also tax inheritances in order to stop the out-of-all-proportion pooling of family wealth through massive intergenerational transfers? The issue here is political. Sometimes inheritance taxes poll poorly, even when the tax only targets the passing down of unearned wealth. Even so, should we continue to allow oligarchs to control so much wealth and power while other Canadians continue to live in poverty?

The proper design of any wealth tax system ought to both balance revenue generation and target wealth concentration. Which is why if we swear off an inheritance tax, we should be jacking up wealth tax rates. And if we shy away from steeply progressive wealth tax rates, we need to at least implement an inheritance tax.

French economist Thomas Piketty, best known for his best-selling book Capital in the 21st Century, has just put out a new book entitled Capital and Ideology. In it he proposes a wealth tax with a rate that goes as high as 90% for those worth over two billion euros (almost $3 billion). He also states that billionaires actually harm economic growth and should be completely taxed out of existence. In a world in the midst of a climate emergency, it may also simply be necessary.

Piketty writes in Le Monde that “it is increasingly clear that the resolution of the climate challenge will not be possible without a strong movement in the direction of the compression of social inequalities at all levels.” This is because, “at world level, the richest 10% are responsible for almost half the emissions and the top 1% alone emit more carbon than the poorest half of the planet. A drastic reduction in purchasing power of the richest would therefore in itself have a substantial impact on the reduction of emissions at global level.”

When designing our wealth taxes, we should perhaps consider not only their redistributive power but also how they can attack the entrenched power of economic elites—and how this might help us save the planet along the way. As Piketty suggests, a wealth tax could be instrumental in shifting carbon intensive and socially useless elite consumption patterns.

Looking forward into the next decade, when large-scale economic decarbonization is on the agenda, we should also ask ourselves if this should mean moving toward a billionaire-free world. In the future we want to build, if we are asked the question, “Should billionaires exist?”, we should be able to confidently and resolutely answer: no.



How Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax would work
New York Times: The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You


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

Leaked document reveals PC government’s plan to privatize health services: NDP

Watch the video

The Ontario NDP says it obtained a leaked internal document Wednesday night that shows the PC government is aiming to privatize health services, including hospitals and family doctors.

The draft bill reveals a plan to dissolve Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and create a “super agency” with a mandate to privatize, according to the NDP.

“While the Ford government is publicly pretending to consult on health care, in the back room, legislation designed to privatize our health care system is already being drawn up,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said at Queen’s Park Thursday.

“We’ve obtained internal documents, including a complete piece of government legislation that lays out the Ford government’s plan to create a new … super agency with a specific mandate to privatize our health services.”

Richard Southern


– NDP leader Andrea Horwath says leaked Ford Government health care bill opens door to privatization of hospitals. Watch.

Embedded video


‘Super-wealth tax’ to raise $5.6B in 1st year, Singh says during Hamilton NDP event

The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates it would raise around $70 billion over 10 years

Jagmeet Singh met with residents at a Hamilton east end home and revealed more details about the NDP’s proposal of a “super-wealth tax.” (Martin Trainor)

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says a tax on the super rich would raise $5.6 billion that could be invested in health care and housing.

He spoke about the “super-wealth tax” and the funds it would raise Tuesday at a “kitchen table” event at an east end Hamilton home.

He said the Parliamentary Budget Officer crunched the numbers to estimate that the super-wealth tax would raise $5.6 billion in the 2020 – 2021 year, and anticipates that it would grow to around $9.5 billion by 2028 – 2029. Over 10 years, it estimated that this tax will raise almost $70 billion.

“If we put this super-wealth tax in place, we can raise the funds to put in place that medication coverage for all, we can invest in housing to make sure it’s affordable, we can make people the priority,” Singh said.

The super-wealth tax would include a one per cent tax on Canadians with fortunes over $20 million. It would be applied annually and include real estate, luxury items, and investments.

Singh said that this would apply to around one tenth of one per cent of Canadians.  MORE


NDP promises free dental care for households making under $70K starting in 2020

ILO celebrates 100 years of fighting for fair labour practices

Members of the Union for Hospitality workers Local 75 walk in Toronto’s annual Labour Day Parade on Sept. 3 last year. The International Labour Organization, 100 years old this year, continues to fight globally for social justice and an inclusive future for work, Adelle Blackett writes.

A good anniversary should not go to waste. Yet how many Canadians know, in this moment of inequality and discontent, that we helped found a century-old international organization whose constitution proclaims that “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice?”

Established under the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the International Labour Organization outlived the beleaguered League of Nations to become the first United Nations specialized agency. Its staff barely escaped the rise of fascism in Europe, settling into a wartime home at McGill University from 1940–1948.

At McGill, the ILO prepared its post-war future, anticipating decolonization. It drafted the 1944 constitutional text, the Declaration of Philadelphia, declaring that “Labour is not a commodity;” “Freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress;” “Poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere;” and “All human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity.”

Beyond adopting paper standards, the ILO has assumed an active yet largely forgotten role in democratization, including ending political apartheid in South Africa. It insists on playing a role in international economic policy-making, calling for a fair globalization. On its 50th anniversary in 1969, it won the Nobel Peace Prize for its relentless social justice action.

The ILO has realized that this centennial moment is too weighty to wrap itself in self-congratulation: it has emphasized the need for an inclusive future of work. Canadian celebrations have picked up on this theme. MORE

Federal party leaders focus on wooing union heartland on Labour Day

Riding of Hamilton Centre expected to be closely fought between the NDP, Liberals this fall election

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, left, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, centre, and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were scheduled to be in Hamilton on Labour Day. (Canadian Press)

Wooing workers in Canada’s union heartland was the focus for federal party leaders this Labour Day, with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh all in Hamilton, Ont.

Trudeau participated in the annual Labour Day parade there, Singh was to catch up with the participants at the annual Labour Day picnic, and Scheer was expected at the Labour Day classic football game between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Hamilton has a long-standing connection to Canada’s union movement as the historic epicentre of the steel industry and related businesses. It was there in the 1870s that workers first agitated for the government to legislate shorter work days, an effort that eventually led to the first national union, albeit a short lived one.

Hamilton is also home to five federal ridings: the Liberals hold two, the NDP two and the Conservatives one, with the vote bouncing between all three parties in recent elections.

The riding of Hamilton Centre is expected to be closely fought between the NDP and the Liberals this election. David Christopherson, the NDP MP who has represented the area for over a decade, has retired, leaving his seat vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the NDP are hoping to take the riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek away from the Liberals by counting on support from steelworkers who have complained about their treatment at the hands of the current local Liberal MP.

NDP pitching to union workers

Singh made a pitch to union workers Monday, promising that if his party forms government, they’d bring in legislation to end the ability of companies to replace striking workers with temporary employment. He also promised to immediately raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and ensure better protections for contract workers.

“This is what you get when you get a New Democrat,” Singh said during an event Monday morning in Toronto before he headed to Hamilton. “You get someone on your side.”

Singh was joining Labour Day events in Hamilton at the invitation of the local labour council, while Trudeau was invited by the local chapter of the Labourers International Union of North America, which represents construction workers, among other industries. MORE

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