The NDP race is on

Sunday afternoon candidates for the NDP leadership race gathered in Halifax, N.S. for their second official debate of the year.

This all-candidate debate was an opportunity for NDP leadership hopefuls to separate themselves from the pack by outlining where they stand on relevant Canadian issues.

One of the many themes of the debate was the almost unanimous anti-Stephen Harper attacks that most of the candidates missed no opportunity to voice throughout the webcast.

“Stephen Harper’s vision of families is more like the sitcom ‘Leave it to Beaver.’ Do you ever think about that?” said Peggy Nash, one of the candidates.
NDP candidates also sought to capitalize on the recent controversy regarding Stephan Harper’s proposed changes to the Canadian pension system.

“On Friday, Stephen Harper launched an attack on one of the great Canadian institutions, our pension system,” Thomas Mulclair said in his opening statements.

“The prime minister’s office leaked plans to cut old age security by raising the retirement age to 67.”

On top of the Canadian pension, a national childcare plan, taxation on high-income earners, affordable housing, reducing tuition fees and a national pharmacare program were all important issues of the debate.

Tensions rose as Mulcair, who is considered to be a frontrunner in the race, was subject to a fair share of scrutiny during the portion of the debate when candidates had the opportunity to question one another.

Paul Dewar, another popular candidate, continued to press Mulcair on the issue of Canada’s abundant fresh water resources, “We actually passed a resolution this past spring in Vancouver that would ban the export of bulk water.
“So it is a very simple question, are you in favour of that position, yes or no?” asked Dewar.

“Paul, I answered that question,” replied Mulcair. “I told you I am in favour of protecting our water resources and I’m opposed to bulk water exports.
“That is the party’s position, but you know that it is my position. This is an attack that was used against me in 2008 by the Liberals, and it failed. You know why it failed? Because it wasn’t true.”

Dewar also came under some scrutiny as he faced personal attacks of his own, though Nathan Cullen’s attack appeared to hold very little weight or rational relevance.

“You announced a proposal to bring more women into politics. You immediately followed that up by named your deputy leader as another man,” began Cullen.
“Is it not a bit contradictory to say on the one hand this is important, but then on the other hand not to act upon it?”

“There’s no one better than Charlie Angus to go out and do grass-root politics.
“I should note that my mother, who is a strong feminist, told me about how to share power. That’s, for me, what it is all about, sharing power. It is not about one person controlling power.”

Some of the less publicized candidates include Martin Singh, a Nova Scotian pharmacist and businessman, who had various goals including a national pharmacare program that could potentially save up to 5.4 million dollars.
He argued that the savings would be a result of improving coverage that Canadians have and, “Reinvesting that money into other aspects of the healthcare system.”

There were certainly a lot of Quebec-friendly sentiments voiced Sunday afternoon as the NDP leadership hopefuls are looking to capitalize on their recent gains in the province.

“It has worked because Quebec made families a priority. Quebec spends $10 billion a year making life easier for families. That costs a lot,” said Mulcair.

His comments were shortly followed up by Niki Ashton, who added, “Let’s make sure we have a federal government, an NDP government, that works in respect of the provinces and understands Quebec’s place as well.”

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