'It's about racism': Tom Mulcair talks MMIW, Tina Fontaine at Winnipeg rally
NDP leader makes campaign stop in Winnipeg a day after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair devoted much of his speech to supporters Thursday night to First Nations issues, including an inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women and a road for Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.
The NDP leader reiterated a previous campaign promise to call for an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women (MMIW) within 100 days of taking office.
"[Tina Fontaine's] tragic death has shocked this community. I say this to every mother, every daughter, every sister: It's time you have a prime minister that cares," Mulcair said.
This week, family and friends of Fontaine marked the first anniversary since the 15-year-old girl's body was pulled from the Red River.
So far, Winnipeg police haven't made any arrests or laid any charges in her death, which they deemed a homicide.
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He said there was one reason why an inquiry hadn't already been called into cases such as Fontaine's.
"Do you think that if 1,200 women who had been murdered or had gone missing in Ottawa, we'd need the United Nations to tell us to have an inquiry? It would have happened a long time ago. This is about racism, that's what this is about," Mulcair said.
Mulcair also threw his support behind a road that would connect Shoal Lake 40 First Nation with the mainland. The community supplies Winnipeg with its drinking water, but has been under a boil water advisory for nearly two decades.
Mulcair said he would also work with First Nations rather than fight them in court.
"When it comes to Ottawa's relationship with Métis, Inuit and First Nations, I will usher in a new era," he told supporters.
Mulcair took time to level criticisms at Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, saying he had failed Canadians on the economy and on cleaning up what he called Liberal scandals in Ottawa.
Mulcair pointed to continuing deficits and unemployment levels, and the spending controversy in the Senate, specifically the current trial of suspended senator Mike Duffy.
He had to speak above hecklers for much of his talk, who repeatedly yelled, "Stop Energy East and stop the tar sands."
Eventually, Mulcair shot back, "I'm more than willing to put up with your screaming, but I'm trying to talk about First Nations — could you show a little bit of respect, please?"
Mulcair did devote some of his speech to his record on the environment, and a promise to call for sustainable development legislation if elected
He also reiterated promises to invest in infrastructure, a $15 federal minimum wage, $15-a-day child care and a plan to reverse Harper's plan to raise the Canadian Pension Pan eligibility age to 67.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger did not attend the meeting, but a representative said he would meet with Mulcair later Thursday night.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper paid Manitoba a visit last week. Harper spoke to a room full of party supporters at Canad Inns Polo Park in Winnipeg on Aug. 13.