NDP Leader Tom Mulcair sat down for an exclusive wide-ranging interview with CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge airing Wednesday evening on The National.
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PETER MANSBRIDGE: SO, CANADIANS SAY THEY WANT CHANGE. POLLS SUGGEST UP TO 70% SAY THEY WANT CHANGE. WHAT ARE YOU OFFERING AND HOW FAST ARE YOU OFFERING IT IN TERMS OF CHANGE?
TOM MULCAIR: Well we're offering the team with the experience and the plan to defeat Stephen Harper and replace him and to start repairing some of the damage that he's done. It's been a rough 10 years on the economy – 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost. There are 250,000 more unemployed today than when the last recession hit in 2008. So we've got a plan to kick start the economy, lower taxes for small and medium sized businesses who are the job creators. Make life easier for the middle class by bringing in $15 a day quality child care – some of the ideas that we're putting on the table.
MANSBRIDGE: BUT HOW SOON WOULD THEY SEE CHANGE?
MULCAIR: Well as soon as we're able to form a government we would see change in our attitudes internationally. I'd love nothing more than to go to Paris at the Conference of the Parties in December and get Canada on track. Start working with the world and stop working against the planet. That will be the most important conference on climate change since the signature of Kyoto. We're the only country in the world to have withdrawn from Kyoto. And I sincerely believe that we have an obligation to future generations to start getting that right. Here at home there's more inequality than ever and we've got to start reducing that gap. We'll start by doing things very concrete, like taking the CEO stock option tax loophole, eliminating it. Turning that money over to help take poor kids and make sure that they don't go to school hungry anymore. Helping take impoverished families in Canada out of that situation is something that's a priority for the NDP and we've got a clear plan to do that. Help seniors (overlap) in poverty.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) BUT THAT – THOSE ARE – THOSE ARE BUDGETARY MEASURES RIGHT?
MULCAIR: They can all be done right away though.
MANSBRIDGE: BUT WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY RIGHT AWAY?
MULCAIR: Well (overlap) in our first budget –
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) BECAUSE WHEN PEOPLE WANT CHANGE THEY WANT TO SEE IT, LIKE NOW. SO, WHAT ARE WE TAKING ABOUT?
MULCAIR: It's taken ten years for us to get there. We've got a clear plan, long term. Sustainable development for me is not a slogan. It's something that I've done. What I mean by that is we'll put in place a clear plan for economic growth, a clear plan to help the middle class, a clear plan to clean up the environment. Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau agree on a lot of things – everything from Keystone XL to tax breaks for Canada's largest corporations. We've got a different approach, Peter. I've got 35 years public service experience including as a cabinet minister. I know what it is to take those tough decisions day in and day out and that's what we're going to do. (overlap) We're going to change the way things have (overlap) have been done.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) SO ARE YOU TELLING ME THEY WOULD SEE CHANGE, THEY WOULD NOTICE CHANGE VERY QUICKLY –
MULCAIR: Well –
MANSBRIDGE: –IF THE NDP WERE TO ATTAIN POWER?
MULCAIR: When I was trying to get all of us to rise above partisanship when we saw those horrible images of that little boy on that beach in Turkey, I was putting forward a plan to get 10,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of the year. I would prefer if Mr. Harper were to start doing that right away. But you can count on us to get it done right away. The way we were able to act quickly and massively in the case of Kosovo. So that would be an NDP government's approach. That's internationally.
MANSBRIDGE: SO THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING WE WOULD SEE RIGHT AWAY –
MANSBRIDGE: A MOVE IN TERMS OF THE REFUGEE SITUATION?
MULCAIR: Yeah. And that's also something that you would see right away would be me naming a minister responsible for our clear plan to bring in $15 a day quality child care across the country. It's something the other parties promised for years and years but never got done. We'll get it done.
MANSBRIDGE: NOW THERE ARE TWO PEOPLE VYING TO BE THE AGENT OF CHANGE, TO TRY AND GRAB ON TO THAT 70 PER CENT OR WHATEVER THE FIGURE IS OF THOSE WHO WANT CHANGE. AND THEY OF COURSE ARE YOU AND MR. TRUDEAU. NOW SOME ARGUE THAT THEY CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT THE TWO OF YOU ARE OFFERING. NOW YOU'VE GIVEN A COUPLE OF THINGS HERE WHERE YOU SUGGEST THE DIFFERENCES ARE CLEAR. BUT IN GENERAL TERMS, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT YOU'RE OFFERING AND WHAT MR. TRUDEAU'S OFFERING?
MULCAIR: A clear plan, consistency. You know, Mr. Trudeau in the space of 8 weeks has gone from saying that he's going to balance the budget every year to saying that he's going to run massive deficits. And in that 8 week period he criticized the Conservatives for running, according to the PPO, a deficit this year. And then again he's flipflopped so many times. He said that he would have voted against C51. He claimed to be against it but then he voted for it. He voted FOR our plan for a $15 federal minimum wage. Now he criticizes it. So he's all over the map. We never know what his position is going to be and it's that lack of clarity and consistency that we're noticing and Canadians are starting to notice. You can't run a country by focus group. You can't keep changing your position. We've got clear positions. It's a well stated plan, long term, to grow the economy, make life better for middle class Canadians.
MANSBRIDGE: OCTOBER 19 YOU MOVE INTO THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE WITHIN DAYS OR AT THE MOST WEEKS AFTER THAT. WHAT'S THE FIRST THING YOU DO. YOU WALK IN THERE; YOU'VE GOT 75 CENT DOLLAR, YOU'VE GOT 45 DOLLAR OIL, YOU'RE IN A RECESSION. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO ONCE YOU ACHIEVE POWER IN TERMS OF THE ECONOMY?
MULCAIR: Well we would start trying to kick start the economy and we would start with the people who create 80% of new jobs in Canada. So we've said that we will immediately start reducing the taxes for our small and medium sized businesses because they ARE the job creators. So that's something that we would do immediately.
MANSBRIDGE: BY HOW MUCH?
MULCAIR: We've said it would go from the current 11 down to 9. Mr. Harper has said that he'll do that over 4 years; we would start that immediately.
MANSBRIDGE: WHEN YOU SAY START THAT IMMEDIATELY –
MULCAIR: We would do an immediate 1 point drop and then a second 1 point drop within a year. And Mr. Harper's plan was over 4 years.
MANSBRIDGE: LET ME – LET ME GIVE YOU A LIST OF DIFFERENT THINGS THAT CURRENTLY EXIST, THAT ARE FAIRLY RECENT IN TERMS OF UM BENEFITS OR NONBENEFITS TO CANADIANS.
MANSBRDIGE: AND LET ME ASK YOU TO KIND OF DO A CHECK LIST ON WHAT YOU WOULD DO WITH THAT LIST.
MANSBRIDGE: A YES OR NO ON CONTINUING CERTAIN THINGS.
MULCAIR: Now you're asking a lot for a politician to give you a one word answer, but I'll give it my best shot, Peter.
MANSBRIDGE: (LAUGH) YEAH OKAY. WELL LET'S GIVE IT A TRY. THE UCCB, THE UNIVERSAL CHILD CARE BENEFIT. TOM MULCAIR AND THE NDP WIN THE ELECTION.
MANSBRIDGE: DOES IT STAY OR DOES IT GO?
MULCAIR: It stays because it's taxable. And high end earners pay most of it back in taxes but almost all of it flows into the pockets of people on the lower end of the spectrum and that's a good thing.
MANSBRIDGE: SO THERE WOULD BE NO CHANGE IN THAT.
MULCAIR: No change in the UCCB for the NDP.
MANSBRIDGE: TFSAs, THE TAX FREE SAVING ACCOUNT.
MULCAIR: The most recent increase in the last budget we would eliminate.
MANSBRIDGE: SO YOU WOULD KEEP IT $5,000 – NOT GO TO $10,000.
MANSBRIDGE: THE CORPORATE TAX RATE.
MANSBRIDGE: YOU TALKED ABOUT THE SMALL BUSINESS TAX RATE.
MANSBRIDGE: WHAT ABOUT THE CORPORATE TAX RATE?
MULCAIR: We'll raise it. It's currently at 15. We're going to raise it reasonably. It will stay below what it has been as an average under the Conservatives. But they're the only Canadians not paying their fair share right now. We think that Canada's largest corporations have received tens of billions of tax reductions by the Conservatives. The Liberals agree with those tax reductions. We don't. We want Canada's largest corporations to start paying their fair share and we'll raise their tax rate reasonably.
MANSBRIDGE: AND WOULD THAT BE IN THE FIRST BUDGET? (OVERLAP) WOULD THAT BE RIGHT AWAY?
MULCAIR: (overlap) That would be – That would be in the first budget.
MANSBRIDGE: HOW FAST WOULD THE FIRST BUDGET COME?
MULCAIR: Well, in the spring of 2016 on schedule. I'll let Mr. Harper's fiscal year terminate. I don't know what his books are actually going to look like. I hope you won't think less of me (OVERLAP)
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT?
MULCAIR: – if I tell you that he doesn't really have a $5 billion surplus.
MANSBRIDGE: DO YOU WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE BOOKS WILL REALLY SHOW?
MULCAIR: I'm confident that we can get it done. We've got an amazing team. I'm worried that Mr. Harper hasn't told people the whole truth. That's a bit of a classic of course in a last year of a long mandate. But we'll take the books in the shape that they're in and we'll govern the country well and responsibly and prudently, as the NDP has a good habit of doing.
MANSBRIDGE: GST...DO YOU TOUCH THE GST?
MULCAIR: No. It's a very regressive tax. It hurts the poor the most. We won't be touching the GST.
MANSBRIDGE: SO NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS IN TERMS OF THE OVERALL BOTTOM LINE ON THE GOVERNMENT'S BOOKS YOU WOULDN'T GO TO THE GST TO HELP RESCUE YOU?
MULCAIR: No because we're a social democratic party. We believe in reducing inequality in our society and that type of tax is very regressive. It hurts poor people the most and we would not go there.
MANSBRIDGE: UM, INCOME SPLITTING.
MULCAIR: For retired people we will keep income splitting and I'm glad that that was on your list frankly, because the Conservatives have not been telling the truth to Canadians about that. They've been doing a lot of robo-calling and saying that because we're going to get rid of the new income splitting that they've brought in for the richest people in Canada – you know, it's only going to help 15 per cent, the new one. We would eliminate that completely. That's several billion dollars right there. You know, that 15 per cent does include some of the richest people in Canada. We're just simply opposed to it. But the income splitting that is allowed for retired seniors on their pensions we would maintain that, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to say that.
MANSBRIDGE: YOU'VE GONE THROUGH THAT LIST. YOU'VE TALKED EARLIER IN TERMS OF THE DAYCARE PROGRAM AND OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO COST MONEY.
MANSBRIDGE: AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE WONDERING, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THIS AND STILL COME IN WITH WHAT YOU SAY WILL BE A FLAT BOTTOM LINE.
MULCAIR: (OVERLAP) It will be.
MANSBRIDGE:(OVERLAP) YOU WILL NOT GO INTO DEFIC-
MULCAIR: Yes. Our first – Our first budget, our first fiscal year will be a balanced budget. We firmly believe in that and it's something that I will accomplish. But I just gave you a couple of examples. The billions of dollars that will flow when we're talking about an increase in the tax rate for Canada's largest corporations. The billions of dollars in spending that we will eliminate right there, with regard to the income splitting.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) BUT WHEN THE – WHEN THE CONSERVATIVES SUGGEST THAT YOU'RE – THE BLACK HOLE, AS THEY DESCRIBE IT FOR THE NDP –
MANSBRIDGE: – IS $35 BILLION AT LEAST.
MULCAIR: Sure. It's just stuff that they're making up. We looked at one of the line items when they sent out Jason Kenney. And it was interesting, they didn't send out a finance minister to do this. They send out one of their attack guys. So you could tell that it was just a construction by the Conservative party because his numbers didn't hold. On one item on housing he was off by a factor of – eh – 5, he had $5 billion where we had 940 million. So if they're going to make stuff up about us, Peter, I hope you don't mind if I just knock down those straw men one after the other.
MANSBRIDGE: YOU CLAIM YOU'RE GOING TO COME UP WITH A FULL COSTING OF EVERYTHING.
MULCAIR: Absolutely. That's our (overlap) obligation.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) AND HOW YOU WILL ACHIEVE A –
MANSBRIDGE:– A NONDEFICIT POSITION.
MULCAIR: Yes a balanced –
MANSBRIDGE: –BY MIDSEPTEMBER.
MULCAIR:–balanced budget yes. The NDP has the best record for balanced budgets of any political party in Canada and I'm going to maintain that proud tradition, yeah.
MANSBRIDGE: IT'S NOT HAPPENING IN MANITOBA.
MULCAIR: It's not happening in Manitoba now. But they've done quite well despite the ups and downs. They've got a very low unemployment rate and they've done fairly well despite having very serious social challenges.
MANSBRIDGE: BUT THERE ARE CHALLENGES FACING ALL GOVERNMENTS RIGHT NOW.
MULCAIR: I mean you can ask the Liberal leader about Liberal governments here and there. You can ask Mr. Harper about various Conservative governments that have been there. But I'm the person who's going to be leading the NDP government. We've got an incredible team; look at the type of people we're recruiting and look at our track record for balanced budgets. We really do have the best track record, Peter. (overlap) That's proven.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) WHY ARE YOU SO WORRIED ABOUT ENSURING THAT YOU HAVE A BALANCED BUDGET?
MULCAIR: I firmly believe that we've got to move away from this era where we left massive debt, both economic and social and I would add ecological, on the backs of future generations. When lot of people are arriving at retirement age without enough to live on, that's a social debt we're leaving on the backs of future generations. When we don't clean up the mess that we're causing, when we don't apply basic rules of sustainable development like polluter pay, that's an ecological debt that we're asking future generations to clean up. And if we say that we're going to be spending tens of billions of dollars a year more than what we're taking in, that's a massive economic debt on their backs. I look at the level of indebtedness of young people finishing university today. I had to borrow. I come from a large family; I had to borrow to go to university but it was a reasonable debt. Young people now have massive debt and a lot of young people are choosing not to do their postsecondary studies because of that. I don't find that fair and I want to reduce that sort of inequality in our society.
MANSBRIDGE: IF YOU WIN THE ELECTION, CAN YOU SEE US SITTING HERE A YEAR FROM NOW AND YOU LOOKING AT ME AND SAYING, LOOK, GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONDITIONS MADE THIS MUCH TOUGHER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO. THEY LEFT ME WITH A MESS IN THE BOOKS. AND YOU KNOW WHAT, THERE'S NO WAY THAT WE COULD HAVE EVER COME IN (OVERLAP) IN A NONDEFICIT POSITION.
MULCAIR: (overlapping) I don't blame you for asking that question. It's a classic. And I've seen government –
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) WELL IT'S A CLASSIC FOR A REASON.
MULCAIR: (overlap) No, not the question –
MULCAIR: –the response.
MULCAIR: And I've seen it in, in my many years both as an elected official and as a senior public administrator. But what I'm saying to you is this. I don't believe in leaving that on the backs of future generations. I heard Joe Oliver say that he wanted to leave that to Stephen Harper's grandchildren. I don't want to leave that to Stephen Harper's grandchildren or to my grandchildren. I don't want to behave that way. There have been times like the massive recession we went through in '08 where it was absolutely necessary for the government to move rapidly, to staunch that and to spend more than we were taking in. We encouraged that. We were in favour of it. But that was the worst recession since the 1920s. (OVERLAPPING) That's not the situation right now.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAPPING) SO IF THIS – IF THIS CURRENT – BUT IF THIS CURRENT RECESSION SITUATION TURNED INTO SOMETHING LIKE THAT, YOU WOULD HAVE TO RETHINK YOUR STRATEGY.
MULCAIR: We're not in that position. And right now we know that we've gone through a predictable drop. I mean it's cyclical. But Mr. Harper did nothing to prepare for or react to the predictable drop. He had made a massive bet, Peter, on oil and gas. He had made the economy – the whole economy, less diverse, less balanced. As I say we lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs. So we've got to get back to a balanced economy. There are lots of opportunities out there but you have to have a government that believes in helping create the conditions to create jobs and Mr. Harper sees no role for the government in that. I do. I want to be a champion for manufacturing and innovation. Recently there was a huge air show in Paris, the big one at Bourget, with every aerospace company in the world, do you know how many ministers were there for Canada? Not one. Not even the industry minister. When Boeing wants to sell jets to China, President Obama goes to China to help Boeing sell jets. And do you know what? They sold a lot of jets. I want to be that champion for Canadian manufacturing.
MANSBRIDGE: LET ME READ YOU A QUOTE AS WE SHIFT TOPICS. YOU SAID THIS TO ME IN AN INTERVIEW 2 AND A HALF YEARS AGO, FEBRUARY 2013. THE SIMPLE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT YOU DON'T WAKE UP THE DAY AFTER AN ELECTION AND SNAP YOUR FINGERS AND SAY, POOF, YOU'RE GONE. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT?
MANSBRIDGE: THE SENATE.
MANSBRIDGE: YOU'VE MADE ABOLISHING THE SENATE, JUST AS ALL YOUR PREDECESSORS IN THE NDP (OVERLAP) LEADERSHIP –
MULCAIR: (overlap) In the NDP yes. (chuckle)
MANSBRIDGE: (CHUCKLE) YES, HAVE SAID, YOU WANT TO ABOLISH THE SENATE.
MULCAIR: Yes I do.
MANSBRIDGE: HOW MUCH OF A PRIORITY IS IT? I MEAN IS IT ONE OF THE THINGS ON DAY ONE YOU GO AND SAY, OKAY WE'VE GOT TO – I WANT SOMEBODY HANDLING THIS PORTFOLIO RIGHT NOW – JOB, GET RID OF THE SENATE.
MULCAIR: I'm not going to subcontract that one. It will be my job as prime minister to open up conversations with the provincial premiers, as I've already started to do. But you're right, like most Canadians I didn't spent a lot of time – I mean when I studied political science, thought a little bit about the Senate. Didn't find it very useful but it was not something that kept me awake at night. The day that group of unelected officials – now some of them are good individuals – I'm not taking that away from them – but Mr. Harper has had a habit of naming defeated candidates and party bag men and other officials to the Senate. The day, Peter, that they had the temerity to reverse legislation on climate change that Jack Layton had – successfully had adopted by the elected people in the House of Commons, it made me realize that it is time for us to get that changed. Now I know it's difficult. But when I was in provincial politics in Quebec, we changed something that was as relic of the 1860s in the Constitution which was religion based school boards. And we changed them. We changed them to language based boards which were more adapted. We had to get the National Assembly to agree on it and I was part of that, even though I was in Opposition. A lot of hard work with the English speaking community. We worked hard to get it through the House of Commons and the Senate and we got the Constitution changed. Now fair enough, it's one province and it's one subject. But to say that it can't be done, as others would have you believe, is to say that we're stuck with this relic of our British colonial past. I don't agree with that.
MANSBRIDGE: BUT IS IT A PRIORITY?
MULCAIR: Well it's a priority to the extent that I won a mandate for it on October 19 a priority to the extent that I will make the effort to continue to meet with the premiers and I know how tough it's going to be. But we go after these jobs because all the easy things have already been done.
MANSBRIDGE: BUT IF YOU WIN ON OCTOBER 19 MANDATE, AT LEAST PARTIALLY AS A SIGNAL THAT CANADIANS WANT TO ABOLISH THE SENATE.
MULCAIR: Absolutely. And I would take that signal and that mandate into my meetings with the provincial premiers. I come out of provincial politics. I have no hesitation to sit down with provincial leaders. I want to have two meetings a year of the Council of the Federation. And Mr. Harper is yet to have one.
MANSBRIDGE: HOW DO YOU GOVERN THOUGH, UM KNOWING THAT YOU WANT TO ABOLISH THE SENATE, WHEN YOU ACTUALLY NEED THE SENATE TO TH , YOU WOULD TAKE THAT GOVERN. MANY OF THE THINGS YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT EARLIER IN THIS DISCUSSION ARE GOING TO HAVE TO EVENTUALLY GO THROUGH THE SENATE –
MANSBRIDGE: – TO GET PASSED.
MULCAIR: Absolutely right.
MANSBRIDGE: SO DO YOU APPOINT A GOVERNMENT LEADER IN THE SENATE?
MULCAIR: I'm not going to be appointing any Senators, no. And I –
MANSBRIDGE: BUT – SO HOW DO YOU GET THINGS THROUGH THE SENATE?
MULCAIR: Well the Senate is going to have to realize that there's a government that's just been elected with I would hope a majority in the House of Commons – and when that legislation is enacted, or at least adopted by the people who have been put there by Canadian voters, they're going to be given the legislation and asked to pass it in turn so that it can be promulgated into law in the country.
MANSBRIDGE: AND YOU THINK THEY'LL DO THAT? I MEAN THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES WHEN THEY HAVEN'T EVEN PASSED THEIR OWN PARTY'S [Mulcair chuckles] LEGISLATION. WHY WOULD THEY PASS YOURS? YOU WANT TO KILL THEM.
MULCAIR: Well I want to get rid of unelected, unaccountable Senators, you're right. That's been a longstanding position of our party. For once I agreed with Mr. Harper because he chose to imitate my suggestion that we allow it to simply wither on the vine. He's not – he said he wouldn't name any more Senators and there are 20someodd who haven't been named. And precisely that. I mean I'm not going to name Senators. The NDP is not going to name Senators. We can't go against that fundamental belief. Mr. Harper talked a good game about getting rid of the Senate, but he threw in the towel. He gave up. I called him after the Supreme Court decision and I said, are you going to make me do this alone? It was a lighthearted conversation, but I was really surprised, because he immediately threw in the towel after having gotten elected on a promise to either profoundly reform the Senate or get rid of it. And he was doing neither.
MANSBRIDGE: BUT I, I – YOU SOUND LIKE YOU'RE JUST GOING TO GO ON GOOD FAITH TO GET ALL THE OTHER THINGS THAT YOU THINK ARE INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT, WHETHER IT'S DAYCARE OR REPEALING CERTAIN UM AH OTHER ACTS.
MULCAIR: (overlap) I'm going to have Canadians working with me. I'll have a mandate from the Canadian voting public. And I'll also know that across the country people WANT quality, affordable, $15 a day child care. And for us it's a top priority in this campaign. And yeah, if we put that into one of our measures and the Senate tries to block it, well that will be part of what Canadians have to decide on their own isn't it. And I'll talk to Canadians about that.
MANSBRIDGE: CLARITY ACT.
MANSBRIDGE: IS THAT A PRIORITY FOR YOU TO REPEAL A CLARITY ACT?
MULCAIR: No it's not. We've been putting our ideas on the table. As you mentioned, you and I have spoken about this before. We've looked at the Supreme Court decision which says that you need two things. You need qualitative clarity which goes to things like the clarity of the question. We took the trouble to put in a proposal that Craig Scott brought to the House. We actually put in clear questions which were an imitation of the Scottish question that recently was voted down in Great Britain. We've taken the trouble to say what conditions would trigger a reaction by the courts to determine the clarity of the question. So we've done our homework. But Peter, Canadians know this about me, that I was there fighting for our country, fighting against the separatists in the 1980 referendum. I fought in the 1995 referendum. I was there in the front trenches of the National Assembly for almost 15 years doing my job of standing up for Quebecers but also standing up for a united Canada. And I've been consistent in that. So the only people who are raising this right now that I know of are Gilles Duceppe and Justin Trudeau.
MANSBRIDGE: WELL I'M RAISING IT BECAUSE I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE 50.1 NUMBER.
MULCAIR: Well the 50.1 is the same number that applied in Pierre Trudeau's 1980 referendum. It was the same (overlap) number that applied –
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) BUT IT DOESN'T APPLY IN THE CLARITY ACT.
MULCAIR: Well the –
MANSBRIDGE: NOT IN THAT CLEAR WORDING.
MULCAIR: –if you can find for me in the Clarity Act any number, then you're a better man than I am.
MANSBRIDGE: NO I REALIZE THERE'S NOT –
MULCAIR: (overlap) The Clarity Act is anything but clear. And you can't say to Canadians we're going into this without even setting a number. And you can't go into it telling Quebecers, by the way the number is whatever you get plus a whole bunch more. You can't play it that way. You can only talk (overlapping) about this –
MANSBRIDGE (OVERLAPPING) SO WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT CHANGING THE CLARITY ACT –
MULCAIR: (overlap) – if you're willing to put in a number.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) – YOU WOULD WANT A FIRM NUMBER PUT IN THERE. AND YOUR NUMBER IS 50.1.
MULCAIR: We have put together a unity act which has been published, which is right there on the public record and I invite anyone to look at. Because you'll see that we've done our homework. We've set down clear rules for determining a clear question, clear voting, clear counting. I went through that in my riding of Chomedey; 5,400plus votes (overlap) were eliminated.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NUMBER?
MULCAIR: The number is to – to begin the discussion. According to our interpretation is if you have a clear question, and you have clear voting conditions and everybody has played by the same rules, we're going to say the same thing that the British parliament said in the case of the Scottish referendum: The side that wins wins. But as in the case of Great Britain, it requires negotiation and the quality of the mandate you have to negotiate is of course dependent on what you just got as a number. But I don't know of anyone in any British inspired democracy who will tell you that in a referendum the side that wins doesn't win. And if you are going to say that, then the onus, the burden is on the people making that claim. The Liberals claim that it's more. Fine. What's the number? They won't give one. They're playing a game and it's a dangerous game. It's a game that they're playing to talk to (overlap) the rest of Canada-
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) BUT YOU'RE NOT ACTUALLY SAYING THE NUMBER TO ME. YOU MEAN 50.1 WHEN YOU SAY WHEN YOU WIN, RIGHT?
MULCAIR: What I'm saying is that the side that wins wins. That's the rule in (overlap) in democracy.
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) THAT'S 50.1 OR MORE RIGHT?
MULCAIR: That's the rule in a democracy. Those are the rules we played by in 1980. Those are the rules we played by in '95, those are the rules that Great Britain just played by.
MANSBRIDGE: EVERY INDICATION SO FAR IS THIS IS GOING TO BE AN INCREDIBLY CLOSE ELECTION. NOW THERE'S STILL A LONG WAY (OVERLAP) TO GO –
MULCAIR: (overlap) I'm hoping to make it less close.
MANSBRIDGE: (CHUCKLE) YEAH. BUT THERE'S STILL – AND THERE'S STILL A LONG WAY TO GO.
MANSBRIDGE: BUT AT THIS POINT, AT THIS STAGE IN THE CAMPAIGN ONE HAS TO LOOK AT THE POSSIBILITY, IF NOT THE LIKELIHOOD, OF A MINORITY GOVERNMENT. WHAT IS YOUR BELIEF ON THIS SIMPLE QUESTION. DOES THE PARTY IN A MINORITY SITUATION THAT WINDS UP WITH THE MOST SEATS HAVE THE AUTOMATIC RIGHT TO GOVERN?
MULCAIR: Well under our system of government, that would normally be the case. But there are constitutional conventions that are, that are complex, that are historically applied differently. I think that my adversaries take the approach that you've just described and it's certainly the one that I would take.
MANSBRIDGE: SO WHOEVER HAS THE MOST NUMBER OF SEATS SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO GOVERN.
MULCAIR: It's a complex constitutional convention, as you know. There have been instances in the past where governments have tried to hold on.
MANSBRIDGE: IT ALSO RAISES THE QUESTION OF FORMAL AGREEMENTS, COALITIONS. IS – IS THAT KIND OF A DISCUSSION – OR SHOULD THAT KIND OF A DISCUSSION BE TAKING PLACE AMONG LIKEMINDED PARTIES? AND AT THE MOMENT THE LIKEMINDED PARTIES, IN SPITE OF DIFFERENCES IN POLICY, WOULD BE THE LIBERALS AND THE NDP WHO BOTH WANT THE CONSERVATIVES GONE.
MULCAIR: You're right. My priority is to defeat Stephen Harper and replace him with a progressive social democratic NDP government. But back in 2008 we tried. I was part of that. Jack Layton and others, me included, worked with the Liberals to form a coalition. The Liberals turned up their noses on their own signature. And you know what, 7 years later we're still stuck with Stephen Harper. Every time I have opened that door –
MANSBRIDGE: THE PLAYERS ARE ALL DIFFERENT NOW THOUGH.
MULCAIR: Every time I've opened the door with the current Liberals, Mr. Trudeau has personally slammed it. He's gone so far as to say that he could work with the NDP but he can't work with me. My priority is to get rid of Stephen Harper; apparently Justin Trudeau's priority is to get rid of me. I'm very proud to lead an extraordinary party of a great team of women and men across the country. We plan to form a government on October 19 our strong desire to create a more equal society and to create opportunity and that takes care of the public.
MANSBRIDGE: COULD YOU WORK WITH JUSTIN TRUDEAU?
MULCAIR: I've said that many times that my priority is to get rid of Mr. Harper and I have opened that door several times, but it is he himself who has slammed the door shut conclusively every time we've raised that.
MANSBRIDGE: AND WHEN YOU SAY CONCLUSIVELY, DOES THAT MEAN IT'S AH UNOPENABLE BETWEEN NOW AND THE 19 FOLLOWING THE 19–
MULCAIR: What I've said all along is that we were willing to work to make sure that we replace Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
MANSBRIDGE: IF YOU ACCEPT THE RIGHT OF A PARTY THAT HAS THE MOST SEATS TO GOVERN WOULD IT BE FAIR AFTER AN ELECTION FOR OTHER PARTIES, YOU AND THE NDP, TO BE TALK–
MULCAIR: I am the leader of the NDP.
MANSBRIDGE: (CHUCKLE) YEAH YOU AND – SORRY. YOU AND THE LIBERALS TO BE TALKING ABOUT SOME FORM OF AGREEMENT TO TOPPLE THAT GOVERNMENT?
MULCAIR: Purely hypothetical at this point, Peter. And it won't surprise you that I'm not going to go down that path. Because every time we have opened up the real possibility of doing that, the Liberals have slammed the door. They slammed the door on their own signature in 2008. We would have gotten rid of the Conservatives. We were willing to go very far in 2008. We were willing to make them the government and be the junior partner in it, because our priority was to stop the damage that Stephen Harper's Conservatives were doing. They walked away from that. They said they didn't need anybody else and we know the result seven years later, we're still stuck with Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
MANSBRIDGE: A COUPLE OF OTHER AREAS THAT I WANT TO GO THROUGH QUICKLY. UM, THE FIGHT AGAINST ISIS, DOES IT CHANGE DRAMATICALLY AND IMMEDIATELY IF THE NDP TAKES POWER?
MULCAIR: Well we've said clearly, and that's very much on the public record, that we will immediately stop the bombing mission and bring those troops home. And we'll bring home the troops that are involved there as we saw on the frontline when we lost one of our fighters. We know that they've been on the front line and contrary to what had been promised –
MANSBRIDGE: (OVERLAP) SO ALL CANADIAN FORCES THERE INCLUDING THOSE ON TRAINING MISSIONS WOULD BE BROUGHT HOME?
MULCAIR: We will immediately withdraw our troops from Iraq and to the extent that they are doing some bombing in Syria and from Syria.
MANSBRIDGE: SO WE ARE OUT OF THE FIGHT WITH ISIS IF THE NDP WIN. OR IN THE DAYS IMMEDIATELY DEPENDING ON WHAT THE SITUATION IS?
MULCAIR: Yes. Yes, no question about that.
MANSBRIDGE: YOU'RE COMFORTABLE WITH THAT POSITION.
MULCAIR: I'm profoundly in favour of that position.
MANSBRIDGE: DOES ISIS POSE A THREAT TO CANADA AND CANADIANS?
MULCAIR: Peter, I know what poses a threat to Canada and Canadians, it's continued war in a region that's known almost nothing but for 35 years, going back to the Iran-Iraq war shortly after that revolution. We went through Desert Storm and the first Gulf War and then we went through, which was supposedly mission accomplished by getting rid of Saddam Hussein. And everything has flowed from that, all the horrors and I'm not trying to understate them that we're seeing flow from that. So I think that the best thing for Canada to do is to start playing a positive role for peace and that's – that would be a top priority for me as the prime minister of Canada.
MANSBRIDGE: CAN YOU DESCRIBE TO ME THE DIFFERENCE IN TERMS OF THE LEADERSHIP STYLE OF TOM MULCAIR AND STEPHEN HARPER.
MULCAIR: I would have to ask you to become the pundit for the analysis of Mr. Harper. I know that he's my adversary and I face him every day in the House and I stand up to him. I'm the first – I would daresay – leader of the Opposition who's been able to do that, if you remember what happened to Mr. Dion and Mr. Ignatieff. So I took a good fight to him because I had two main jobs to do when I became leader of the Official Opposition.
MANSBRIDGE: BUT HOW – WHAT SHOULD CANADIANS ASSUME THEY WILL BE SEEING IN A PRIME MINISTER TOM MULCAIR THAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT THEY'RE SEEING IN TERMS OF STYLE, IN TERMS OF HOW THEY LEAD?
MULCAIR: Well I think, Peter, that the main thing that we'll see is a leader who's very open, very transparent. I was a minister and when I was a minister, instead of worrying about every access request, we tended to put as much as we could on our site. I understand that every dollar being spent by Canadian taxpayers, they have a right to see how it's being spent. Instead of trying to shut down the parliamentary budget officer – I had to go to court, as leader of the Opposition, to try to help Kevin Page get access to the information, the fiscal information he was allowed to get under the law. So I mean I'm going to practice what I preach. It's going to be very open. I want Canadians to have a parliamentary budget officer who is directly under Parliament. I'm going to make that a much stronger office, like the ah, the Congressional budget office in the U.S.
MANSBRIDGE: UM ON THAT POINT, FORMER NDP MP, BRUCE HYER, NOW RUNNING FOR THE GREENS, HAS HAD SOME PRETTY HARSH WORDS ABOUT YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE. CALLS YOU A RUTHLESS MAN WHO WILL SAY AND DO ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED. JUST LIKE STEPHEN HARPER, HE WOULD BE ANOTHER DICTATORIAL PRIME MINISTER.
MULCAIR: Yeah. Well, here's what happened with Bruce and I haven't talked about it very much publicly. But Bruce simply informed all of us that he would never be able to follow party line on anything, so that's not dictatorial. I've got a, a whole caucus of nearly a hundred people who under my leadership have been able to take a strong fight to Stephen Harper. That from someone who walked away from the party on a single issue, I'll let Canadians decide that. But I, I'm not going to respond to that in kind. I could go a lot further.
MANSBRIDGE: LAST QUESTION AND IT'S MORE PERSONAL THAN POLITICAL OR EVEN – IT'S NOT ABOUT POLICY OR PARTY. IT'S ABOUT – IT'S ABOUT YOU. AND I'VE ASKED EACH OF THE LEADERS THIS. IT'S REALLY IN A WAY DESCRIBING YOURSELF TO US. WHAT IS IT ABOUT TOM MULCAIR THAT WOULD MAKE A PRIME MINISTER? WHY DO YOU THINK YOU CAN BE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA?
MULCAIR: The fire in my belly and some of us have more than others is – and what gets me up every day is to try to make this a fairer society and play a positive role on the world stage and make this a better Canada. I'm very quintessentially Canadian with a French-Canadian mom and an Irish-Canadian dad. Grew up in both languages, both cultures. Have always tried to build bridges between Quebec and the rest of Canada and I think we're doing a pretty good job of that. I would daresay, Peter, that the number one thing that you would see that would be different is that you'd see progressives from Quebec opening up and working with progressives from the rest of Canada to get to that place on the world stage, to bring back a role for Canada that we can aspire to again and we can be proud of. And be proud at home as well. Remove inequality in our society, make this a better place. Create opportunity, start taking care of public protection. Not let companies inspect their own railways or do their (overlap)
MANSBRIDGE: AND YOU'RE DRIFTING INTO POLICY.
MULCAIR: Well it's policy and it's (overlap)
MANSBRIDGE (OVERLAP) THE QUESTION IS ABOUT YOU AND I MEAN YOU'VE BEEN ON THIS LAND SINCE YOU WERE A KID RIGHT?
MANSBRIDGE: SWIMMING IN THIS LAKE.
MANSBRIDGE: WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOU THAT YOU THINK CAN MAKE THE PRIME MINISTER?
MULCAIR: I think that we as Canadians want to have a government that is a reflection of our fundamental goodness. When I worked as an adult in volunteer sectors in many different spheres, I'm just doing what a lot of Canadians do and I think that's a fundamentally Canadian value. When we try to understand each other, as I've worked on all my life, I think that that's a fundamentally Canadian approach. And I am a person who does come to this game with a great deal of experience and a strong track record. When I was the environment minister in Quebec, I reduced greenhouse gas emissions every year. We brought in strong, overarching sustainable development legislation. We didn't just talk about doing these things, we got it done. And that's the type of person I am. When I talk about quality, affordable $15 a day childcare, it's going to happen, Peter. That's just one election away. When I talk about a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, that's going to happen. That's one election away. So in this election, Canadians have a clear choice. For the first time in our history when we're always being told, well when you get tired of Liberal corruption and the sponsorship scandal, no problem. You can go back to the Conservatives. And we get tired of Conservative scandal and the Senate scandal, this time there's another option. For the first time the NDP is the Official Opposition, a government in waiting. We represent the values that I keep hearing across Canada. Catherine and I travel from coast to coast to coast. We're hearing the same thing. Canadians want change in Ottawa. They're tired after ten years of Stephen Harper's Conservatives. They want a fresh approach. And what the NDP has always represented are those values and that's the type of government that I'll lead.
MANSBRIDGE: MR. MULCAIR, THANKS VERY MUCH FOR THIS.
MULCAIR: Thank you, Peter.