A federal NDP government would protect Canada’s supply management system within any Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, says party leader Thomas Mulcair.
He made a campaign stop in Lethbridge Sept. 15, the first leader among the federal parties to visit southern Alberta during the election campaign.
“If you’re in dairy or in egg or poultry production, you’re going to want to make sure that you have a government that understands the importance of maintaining our supply management system,” said Mulcair.
“I’ve written to the prime minister, asking him to ensure that in the TPP negotiation, our supply management system is protected in its entirety. He has refused so far to give that guarantee.”
Mulcair was also critical of the Conservative government’s handling of grain transportation in the 2011-12 crop year, when farmers were unable to ship their grain in a timely fashion.
He said the Conservatives “gutted the presence of the wheat board” and its ability to deal with the railways on behalf of farmers to resolve grain shipping issues.
The Conservatives were incapable of delivering grain, fighter jets and even the mail, said Mulcair, in reference to military contracts and Canada Post’s cancellation of door-to-door mail delivery.
The NDP leader used the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society in Lethbridge, which offers services to First Nations people, as a venue to announce his party’s plan to establish a $100 million mental health innovation fund for children and youth.
The fund would be designed to reduce wait times for mental health treatment and improve the level of care available.
“Our mental health initiatives will have a special emphasis on high risk populations, particularly First Nations, Inuit and Metis, as well as Canadians in rural and remote communities and youth transitioning out of foster care,” Mulcair said in his address.
In response to media queries, the NDP leader said his party has “a real chance of winning” the Lethbridge riding in the Oct. 19 election.
“It’s also understandable that after that many years of being told that there’s only one choice, people here in Alberta and Lethbridge in particular are looking for another option.”
The region has new boundaries but has been represented since 2011 by Conservative Jim Hillyer, who is now the party’s candidate in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding.
The Lethbridge region has been represented by conservative MPs since 1930.
Candidates running in the redrawn Lethbridge riding, which comprises the city and Lethbridge County, include Geoffrey Capp for Christian Heritage, Rachael Harder for the Conservatives, Cheryl Meheden for the NDP and Mike Pyne for the Liberals.