Mulcair calls federal NDP approach 'common sense' during Coquitlam business group talk

Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair was in Coquitlam at a Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday. - TRI-CITIES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PHOTO
Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair was in Coquitlam at a Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday.

Tom Mulcair, leader of the national New Democratic Party, made a whistle-stop at the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Coquitlam Friday and told business leaders that big business should pay their fair share of taxes.

But that doesn't mean the federal NDP will raise rates or even consider hiking personal income taxes, he said. Rather Mulcair told the audience at the Best Western Coquitlam that an NDP government would fill loopholes that allow large corporations to avoid taxes, and would clamp down on the hiring of temporary foreign workers at the expense of qualified Canadians and would require full assessment of any project before a company would be allowed to extract resources or build pipelines, such as the Kinder Morgan-Trans Mountain pipeline project currently being reviewed by the National Energy Board.

Calling for a "common sense" role from government, the NDP leader touched on a number of topics and was grilled by students from Terry Fox secondary in Port Coquitlam who helped stickhandle questions from members of the audience.

"If we take that common sense approach we can do better, we can create jobs," he said.

For Mulcair, on the third-day of a B.C. tour with his wife, Catherine, the stop in Maillardville was an opportunity to touch on local issues, such as the importance of supporting francophone initiatives, providing housing for the homeless, and mental health care.

The largely appreciative audience also clapped when Mulcair said funding should be restored to the struggling CBC. "The cuts are massive," Mulcair said, who later said his next appointment was an interview with Radio Canada.

According to Mulcair, CBC is an institution that binds the country and enables Canadians to listen to and understand each other.


Mulcair also took the opportunity to criticize the Conservatives on a number of issues, including changes to legislation that oversees resource development. He said changes to the Species at Risk Act, the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and environmental assessment procedures may enable resource projects to be fast-tracked. But he said that without public buy in through proper scrutiny, they will die on the vine or will be stymied by a lack of public confidence.

"We want you to succeed on a sustainable basis," Mulcair said of the NDP's stand on resource projects, noting that resources are a "blessing" if they are developed properly.

Mulcair appeared to have differing views of three major pipeline projects, suggesting what could be a nuanced view of resource development. He told his audience that the NDP does not support allowing very large crude oil tankers in Douglas Channel, as proposed by the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project and believes First Nations groups should be at the table and he was critical of the Keystone XL pipeline because it would export jobs to the U.S.

However, his main objection to the Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning project, which would traverse through Coquitlam on its way to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby and would boost tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet, was the inability of the public to orally cross examine witness in the upcoming hearings on the project.

Instead, interveners have opportunities to file written questions challenging the company’s claims in its 15,000-page application for the $5.4 billion Edmonton-to-Burnaby project.

The National Energy Board's recent decision is a "top-down" arrangement that will make it harder for people to support the project, he said, and even if the project gets approved it won't have "public adhesion."

"This is not 1948," Mulcair said. "Things don't work like that anymore."


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