Tom Mulcair unfazed by Manitoba NDP government's unpopularity

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he's not fazed by the low approval ratings that Manitoba's New Democrats are facing.

Federal NDP leader held rally in Winnipeg on Thursday night

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair speaks on CBC's Information Radio program on Friday morning. (Donna Lee/CBC)

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he's not fazed by the low approval ratings that Manitoba's New Democrats are facing.

Speaking on CBC's Information Radio on Friday, Mulcair said he doesn't believe the provincial NDP government's unpopularity will hurt his party's success in the province in October's federal election.

"Everybody understands that there can be a little bit of playoff provincially and federally, but at this stage of the game, the real question is who's in a position to defeat and replace Stephen Harper? And across the Prairies and in western Canada, the party that can defeat the Conservatives is the NDP," he said.

Mulcair added that he met with Premier Greg Selinger on Thursday night. The premier did not attend his campaign rally at the RBC Convention Centre.

"Frankly, if you look at objective measures of Manitoba's performance as opposed to other provinces, it's got one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, despite some serious challenges," Mulcair said, adding that "at the federal level, we know what we have to do."

At Thursday's rally, Mulcair devoted much of his speech to First Nations issues, promising that an NDP government would hold an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and fund construction of a road for the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

On numerous occasions, he also had to speak above hecklers who loudly called on him to stop the Energy East pipeline and oilsands projects.

Long-standing connection to Manitoba

On Friday, Mulcair talked about his long-standing connection to Manitoba, recalling how he lived in the province for a couple years in the 1980s.

Tom Mulcair spoke to hundreds of supporters in Winnipeg on Thursday, railing against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's record on the economy. (Trevor Brine/CBC)
He said he helped translate laws from English to French after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that legislation must be in both official languages.

Mulcair, who grew up in Quebec, said he learned a lot in Manitoba about issues that western Canadians face.

"It was my first stint out west and I remember, for example, when the CF-18 contract was taken away from Bristol Aerospace here in Winnipeg and given to Canadair," he said.

"I remember being in someone's living room when that was happening and he was explaining, 'See, this is what we mean by western alienation — we don't get our fair share.'"

The federal NDP currently has two seats in Manitoba — Winnipeg Centre and Churchill. The party has yet to announce candidates in several ridings, including St. Boniface, Winnipeg South, Portage-Lisgar and Provencher.

Mulcair was coy when asked who will will run in St. Boniface, which is wide open since Conservative incumbent Shelly Glover is not seeking re-election. He did suggest, however, that the NDP could announce a candidate there in the next couple weeks.


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