With the party's polling numbers slipping and as advance polls opened Friday, the NDP released their complete election platform in Montreal with plans for leader Tom Mulcair to embark on a busy weekend of intense campaigning to try to turn things around.
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Mulcair told supporters at the launch that this was the platform that would elect the first federal NDP government.
"There are 35 seats missing," he said. "The Liberals need a hundred. Do the math."
Mulcair told the crowd that "Canadians are ready for change. We're ready like never before," while saying several times that his party's plan was about "building the Canada of our dreams."
In his remarks, Mulcair highlighted the differences between his party and Justin Trudeau's Liberals.
He compared his party's opposition to C-51, the Harper government's anti-terrorism legislation, to the brave positions taken by party icons such as the revered Tommy Douglas.
The Liberals voted in favour of C-51, although they've promised to amend it, if elected to include more parliamentary oversight of the nation's security services.
'Informal or stable arrangements'
Mulcair also said that Liberals weren't doing enough to stand up for dairy farmers and auto workers who are expected to be hurt by the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Trudeau says his party is pro-trade, although, like Mulcair, he has criticized the secrecy of the TPP negotiations and wants to see the full details of the agreement before making any final decision on it.
Friday's platform also reveals similarities between the Grits and NDP, however, in their attempt to convince voters seeking the best alternative to Stephen Harper's Conservatives, and says: "We will work with other federalist parties through informal or appropriate stable arrangements to end Stephen Harper's lost decade."
The final costing for the NDP platform still includes a $4 billion surplus for 2016-17.
Using figures from the parliamentary budget officer, the NDP also offered a worst-case projection of a $2 billion surplus for the same year.
The party has been sensitive to the criticism that its budgeting is too optimistic, but said Friday that more recent figures from the Finance Department continue to suggest the NDP can implement its plan and still stay in the black.
Not everything in the platform released Friday was discussed in previous campaign announcements, although the new elements reflect issues the New Democrats have talked about recently:
- Banning bulk water exports across international boundaries, a defensive move in the face of criticism that Mulcair supported exports as a cabinet minister in Quebec a decade ago;
- giving the information commissioner the power to force departments to release information to the public, and eliminating excessive fees above the $5 charged for access to information requests;
- introducing a new Consumer Protection Act to cap ATM fees at 50 cents a transaction, and create a gasoline ombudsman to investigate complaints about prices at the pump;
- reforming the electoral system, introducing mixed-member, proportional representation and ensuring Canadians living abroad have the right to vote;
- and phasing out interest on all federal student loans.
Harper 'exploiting divisions'
"Despite his emoting when we saw the lifeless body of that child... Mr. Harper and, in fact, his prime minister's office were intervening to ensure that the neediest on Earth, those Syrian refugees, would not make it to Canada."
"This is the same Stephen Harper who's been playing the race card non-stop in this campaign," he said. "He's exploiting divisions among us."
"I've spent a lifetime fighting to build bridges between linguistic, ethnic and religious groups. Mr. Harper's spent his burning those bridges. I'll let Canadians decide which they want on Oct. 19."