By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
In an effort to sweep away select ridings from Conservative clutches in the upcoming October federal election, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was in Oshawa on Monday at the Campus Childcare Centre pumping his party’s main campaign platform of affordable childcare.
Although the writ has yet to be dropped announcing the official start to the campaign period, Mulcair started his eight-day Ontario Tour for Change with a launch in downtown Toronto before heading to Oshawa.
“We’ve been working hard across the country to explain it is indeed possible to have a national program that will see the creation of one million, $15 a day maximum, quality childcare spaces,” Mulcair said.
Mary Fowler, the NDP candidate for Oshawa who will look to beat Conservative incumbent Colin Carrie in October, joined Mulcair at the event.
Fowler says the theme of affordable childcare is one that continuously arises in the Oshawa area, which has a childcare waiting list of nearly 4,000.
“This is something that keeps coming up over and over at doorsteps here in Oshawa…it’s the people who have heard about our program and are excited about its potential and want to have something like that here in Oshawa,” Fowler said.
Under an NDP government, a plan would be implemented to progressively boost federal investment in childcare. Muclair says his government would work with each province and territory to find a system that works for them, along with the government covering 60 per cent of the costs.
“There’s massive waiting lists of thousands of families in the area and we think that it’s high time that instead of just talking about getting it done, we’re going to get it done,” Mulcair says.
In an interview with The Express, Muclair said if elected, affordable childcare would be the top priority for his government and would have a minister solely assigned to the project from day one.
“It’s easy to understand how things get bogged down…you talk about it at election time and then you move things around and you come up with an excuse by the next election…we’re not going to do that. We’re going to work from day one,” he said.
Of the list of municipalities Mulcair will pay visits to over the next week, Oshawa is a key battleground for the NDP. Mulcair pointed to the election of MPP Jennifer French as an example of what his party is capable of in the area.
“There is a history here for the party,” he says.
Responding to Mulcair’s presence in the area, current MP Colin Carrie released a statement saying Mulcair’s plan to raise the business tax on large corporations would eliminate more jobs in Oshawa.
“Canadians will not be fooled by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair,” Carrie said in the statement. “Thomas Mulcair does not know what the business tax rate is in Canada, he just knows he wants to raise it. Raising taxes on business like General Motors in Oshawa will kill jobs in our community.”
Mulcair responded to the statement saying the Conservative government’s system hasn’t been working, citing the loss of 19,000 jobs in the Oshawa area since Harper came to power, 11,000 of which have been lost in the last six months.
“Mr. Carrie should concentrate a little bit more on trying to get back some of the 11,000 manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the last six months in the area,” Mulcair said. “But if he wants to talk about our plan to raise taxes to a more fair level for large corporations, then I welcome that because Canadians should know that that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Muclair said lowering taxes for small businesses is key as this sector creates 80 per cent of new jobs in Canada.
With that said, he also stated keeping the Oshawa Assembly open is also a priority, along with bringing new manufacturing jobs to the area.
“It’s a grave concern because despite the very low Canadian dollar, we’re still having trouble attracting the manufacturing jobs right now,” he said. “So it’s a double whammy – the jobs are being lost and nothing seems to be coming back to replace them.”
Following his Oshawa visit, Mulcair will also be making stops in Mississauga, Scarborough, Cambridge, Hamilton, Stratford and Chatham, among others.