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Thomas Mulcair in Hamilton: Canada Post, jobs, U.S. Steel and more

Tuesday morning CBC Hamilton spoke with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. He's scheduled for a campaign-style stop in Hamilton Tuesday evening at a rally with supporters including local candidates. It's part of an Ontario tour with a federal election just a few months away.

What the man who could be Canada's next Prime Minister has to say about Hamilton, jobs, Canada Post and more

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair will speak to supporters in Hamilton on July 21, 2015. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Tuesday morning CBC Hamilton spoke with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. He's scheduled for a campaign-style stop in Hamilton Tuesday evening at a rally with supporters including local candidates. It's part of an Ontario tour with a federal election just a few months away.

Mulcair and local members of the NDP will be holding a rally at the Hamilton Convention Centre Tuesday evening from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The tour is part of an eight-day trip across Ontario designed to showcase his team, his policies and his party's momentum in the province.

Mulcair kicked off the tour in Toronto and will also stop in Oshawa, Mississauga, Scarborough, Cambridge, Stratford, Chatham, Windsor, Amherstburg, London, Sarnia, Waterloo, Brampton, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sturgeon Falls and North Bay.

Here's an edited and abridged transcript of his interview.

6 Questions with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair

Q. You could have chosen any place in Canada to begin a national election-style tour. Why here?

TM: Hamilton has been a very strong town. Built strong people too who go into politics, whether it's provincially or federally. We've got very deep roots there. I'm going to be coming in to support David Christopherson, who I made Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition. He's also chair of a parliamentary committee. Everyone knows Wayne Marston. He's been doing an amazing job on the issue of human rights. We've got some strong candidates. Chris Charlton is stepping down. But we've got Scott Duvall stepping in to her shoes. And in Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas a wonderful man with great experience, vice chair of the school board, Alex Johnstone. (Ed. note: Mulcair mistakenly identified Alex Johnstone as a man. You can read more about Johnstone below.) 

We're proud of the team we're putting together to fight for the issues that are important to people like affordable, quality child care, like a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, like bringing the retirement age back to 65. These are clear ideas that are resonating very well.

The NDP won a stunning victory in Alberta in May. What has been missing for the NDP to have that kind of success in Ontario?

We worked so hard across Quebec and people were saying we'd never break through in Quebec. And we did. They were saying the same thing in Alberta and in May Rachel Notley and an incredible crew formed a strong, stable majority government. We're looking for the same surprise on October 19. We love the reaction we're getting across Ontario. As my wife, Catherine, and I travel we're hearing that people do want change and can actually get it. For the first time in Canadian history it's not a race between the two old-time parties. The NDP is the official opposition and is being looked at as the government in waiting.

Hamilton NDP MP David Christopherson told us in May the NDP would kill Canada Post's plan to eliminate door-to-door service. Why should Canada Post go back to door-door delivery?

We would be the only country in the G7 without door-to-door delivery. We think Canadians deserve better. If you exclude the year where Mr. Harper locked out the workers, Canada Post has made a profit in every one of the last 18 years. There was no reason to remove that service. Stephen Harper doesn't like government which probably explains why he's so bad at governing. He's the only Prime Minister who has been unable to deliver equipment to the military. He can't get the grain to market. Now we find out he can't even deliver the mail. Last night in Scarborough I met with a bunch of postal workers who were encouraged because the NDP understands the importance of this for people who have limitations in their mobility, handicapped people... the elderly. Seniors are looking at us and saying "are you really going to bring back our mail delivery?" And the answer from the NDP is a categorical yes.

How do you plan to pay for that? Canada Post says they can't afford it.

If you look at the actual numbers from Canada Post that's simply not true. It was eminently sustainable to maintain door-to-door delivery. This was a decision imposed from on high. This is the Conservatives dogmatic approach. All of a sudden the government services we have relied on for generations are supposed to be unaffordable. It's just not true. There's no reason we couldn't maintain door-to-door delivery in Canada and that is precisely what an NDP government will do.

These last few years we've seen a housing boom in Hamilton. But it has come without much affordable housing. What's your plan to change that?

Affordable housing is a right and in a country as wealthy as Canada we should be making more of an effort. The NDP would play a positive role working with provinces and territories to make sure we have affordable housing whether it's rental or co-op housing. Mr. Harper has proposed a series of cuts that would make it difficult for existing co-ops to continue. They stopped investing in housing at the federal level under the Liberal government. Mr. Harper is only making  it worse. This was a key issue for Jack Layton. This will be a key issue for an NDP government.  

You have talked about "hundreds of thousands of well-paid manufacturing jobs" we have lost. Manufacturing job loss is intensely felt in Hamilton. What would an NDP government do to either have some of those jobs return or help a transition to job growth in other areas?

The federal government should play a positive role in helping creating the next generation of well paid jobs. In the Hamilton area since Mr. Harper arrived in power 10,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost. Those were well paid jobs — enough of a salary for a family to live on. When Mr. Harper gives his job creation figures he forgets to mention that those are part-time precarious, service sector jobs. Low paid. There are lots of opportunities. In green renewable energies the technologies there will represent a 5 trillion dollar investment around the world over the next fifteen years.

Hamilton is Steeltown. Those job losses were devastating but there's a fundamental problem. The Conservatives and the Liberals before them never made public the deals that were made to preserve jobs in Canada. When we have seen the crown jewels of the Canadian resource sector sold off to foreign interests all of a sudden there's a massive lockout, there are layoffs. We don't know what the rules were in the deal. the first step is to make those deals public so that everybody can know what they are being held to.      

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