New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh came to town Tuesday to support Sudbury NDP candidate Beth Mairs – and to send the message that they are the party that really fights for average Canadians.
With the NDP closer to the Green Party than the Liberals or Conservatives in national opinion polls ahead, New Democrats are trying to get the message out that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks a progressive game, but fails to deliver.
“I'm hearing heartbreaking stories every day at the door about the challenges people here are facing every day to make ends meet her in Sudbury,” Mairs told the crowded gathering at Steelworkers Hall on Brady Street. “I hear frustration about politicians, saying one thing then not doing them. Jagmeet Singh is different. He's talking about how to really make things better for people here in Northern Ontario – and across the country.
“He is the only leader taking on the rich and the well-connected who is going to stay who is going to actually stand up to powerful insider lobbyists. And he is the only leader who's actually on your side.”
After praising Mairs – Singh said “she's going to be an incredible representative here” – he unveiled the NDP's plans to extend dental and pharmacare coverage to those who can't afford it.
“For millions of Canadians, they can't afford to go to the dentist — it is a massive question of affordability, especially for families,” he said. “So I think about why we're in this position — why it's kind of getting tougher and tougher for people to make ends meet.
“We look at the economy and the economy seems to be booming. But I ask you who's it booming for?”
While corporations are making billions of dollars, ordinary people are finding it tougher to get by – and that's because the Tories and Liberals won't take them on.
“They've consistently, regularly chosen to make life easier for the very top, for the well-connected insiders,” Singh said. “It's easier and easier for them and it's harder for everyone else.”
He pointed to Trudeau's promise to lower the cost of medication during the 2015 campaign. There was a way for him to lower costs by 20 per cent, but Singh said it would have negatively impacted profits of pharmaceutical companies.
“Why did he break that promise? Well, we did a little research and guess how many times the big pharma lobbyists met with Mr. Trudeau's government? Guess how many times in four years? He met with them over 600 times. And guess what happened to that promise? Down the drain.”
In 2019, he said Trudeau is promising again to lower the cost of medication, but there's no reason to believe him.
“That's the thing with Liberals and Conservatives. You get, again and again, governments that don't choose to help people.”
In response to a question about people who weren't ready to vote for someone “who wears a turban,” he acknowledged there's some “prejudice that exists in society.
“I've been told a lot in my life, that because of the way I look, that I couldn't advance in my career,” Singh said. “I've met with a lot of my colleagues who were told the same thing. I met women who've been told because of their gender they couldn't advance in their careers.
"I've met people because of the sexuality who were told that they couldn't advance in their careers. I met people who couldn't advance because of the color of their skin, because of their age – a lot of people face barriers because of who they are.
“I've experienced a little bit of what that's like, and I want to build a Canada where no one's left behind, where everyone can get ahead.”