Singh visits Sioux Lookout
Tim Brody - Editor
Federal New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh visited Sioux Lookout on Oct.5 in support of Kenora Riding NDP candidate Rudy Turtle.
Singh spoke at Turtle’s campaign office, amidst a large and supportive crowd, asking for people to elect Turtle, laying out portions of his party’s New Deal for Northern Ontario, and criticizing decisions of the Justin Trudeau Government.
The Bulletin was provided an opportunity to speak with Singh before his arrival at Turtle’s campaign office.
Asked about visiting Northwestern Ontario, Sioux Lookout and the Kenora Riding, Singh stated, “It’s amazing. So I’ve been able to spend some time in Kenora, in Thunder Bay, my first time in Sioux Lookout, but the north is really important to me. I feel often the north gets neglected, ignored, and having a candidate like Chief Rudy Turtle is someone who understands the community well. He’s spent time even farther north… and will be a strong voice not to just accept the way things are, but to fight for more rights for the North.”
He added, “We have a new deal for people. We also have a new deal for Northern Ontario, which talks about specific solutions to what’s going on up here.”
Asked to comment further on his party’s New Deal for Northern Ontario, Singh shared, “Housing is one of our biggest commitments. We want to build half a million new affordable homes. And that’s a big bold number. We know that it’s ambitious, but it’s important, because for the past 30 years, the federal government stopped being involved in building housing. A lot of the affordable housing that exists now was from the 90s and earlier where the Federal Government partnered with cities and municipalities and provinces and sometimes non-profit organizations to build affordable housing. So I want to do that. It’s a priority for me. That’s going to mean job creation in communities, because building those homes is going to create jobs. We also have a plan to retrofit all homes and buildings, and that’s a job creation plan as well, because it’s going to create jobs in communities. On our health care expansion, this is going to help everybody out. We want a universal pharma care, that means medication coverage for everyone, and that’s not going to cost middle class, low income, middle income, small businesses, a cent. It’s going to be paid through making sure the wealthiest pay their fair share. And those that I’m talking about are those that have fortunes of over $20 million dollars. We’re going to ask them to pay one per cent. That’s going to raise about 70 billion dollars to put into the PBO, the Parliamentary Budget Office. Lots of money can be raised by that, and we’re going to make sure that those at the very top, who have all sorts of loopholes, contribute their fair share and we invest in people. It’s not going to cost people anything. It’s in fact going to save people lots of money.”
The NDP’s New Deal for Northern Ontario also highlights “Putting reconciliation at the heart of our work.”
Asked what reconciliation means to him and how he has seen reconciliation play out across the country, he said, “What I’ve seen so far is a lot of pretty words, but no actions. We’ve got a lot of pretty words from Mr. Trudeau, and no real action.”
He further stated, “I want to really point out that I don’t think it’s a happenstance or coincidence, by chance, it’s by choice. And so, Mr. Trudeau chose not to fund the gap in funding for cleaning up water, is about 1.8 billion dollars according to the PBO. There’s a gap in the amount that’s been promised and the amount that’s needed to clean water. But when you look at the decisions Mr. Trudeau makes, he’s ready to give 14 billion dollars to the richest corporations to buy corporate jets and limousines. In the Fall Economic Statement, he forgave six billion in corporate loans last year alone… that’s 20 billion dollars in spending on the wealthiest corporations and when Indigenous communities need water, they shortfall the funding by almost two billion. That, to me, is a choice they are making not to do something and that’s what reconciliation is to me, is working honestly towards, justice. Not saying the nice things, and then doing the exact opposite or not doing enough. And then taking Indigenous kids to court, is for me, another betrayal of reconciliation where the Human Rights Tribunal doesn’t come to decisions lightly, they made a decision that kids deserve equal funding, that had orders put in place for the government to actually implement the funding. They haven’t. Then they have a historic, landmark decision saying, okay, it’s going to cost this much, and then the Trudeau Government appeals the decision. To me, I don’t know how that is in line with reconciliation, when on one hand you can you believe in it, reconciliation, and on the other hand you’re going to appeal the decision that simply says that kids should get equal funding.”
Turtle agreed with Singh commenting, “What I’ve seen so far is that it seems like they take one step forward and one step back. So really, they’re not moving forward. What he just said about child welfare, they should have supported instead of reviewing it again.”
Singh was in Grassy Narrows First Nation earlier that day, where Turtle is chief of the community. Singh said the NDP is committed to ending water advisories in First Nations communities by 2021.
“For me, this is a question of will and priority,” Singh said. “The government wants to do something, they get it done. They wanted to buy a pipeline; they found 4.5 billion dollars to get it done. If they wanted to clean water, they could do it. I don’t accept, in 2019, with the technology and the wealth that we have, that it can’t be done right away.”
Asked how the NDP, if it formed government, would address social issues in Sioux Lookout and other Northwestern Ontario communities, Singh said, “I think a lot of things come down to just basic care. So, clean drinking water, good housing, access to health care, equal funding for education, these are just some of the building blocks of fairness. That’s just how you start and build it up, with these basic steps.”
Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa accompanied Singh to Grassy Narrows and Sioux Lookout.
He said he’s glad to have a federal party leader visit the riding.
“I’m certainly very grateful that he decided to come. We spoke a few months ago that he’s got to visit my riding. Certainly I think to see the people that are from Sioux Lookout, the North, or from the Kenora riding. I’m not sure whether the other party leaders are doing that, but certainly it’s good to hear from the people that are living in the North, because sometimes we don’t have that voice.”