NDP leader Thomas Mulcair addresses supporters during the NDP Convention 2012 in Hamilton on Sunday April 15, 2012.
Credits: ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI AGENCY
HAMILTON, ON -- Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair wants Ottawa to give more help to manufacturing and less to Alberta's oilsands.
Mulcair said the Conservative government's oilsand-friendly policies are pushing up the value of the Canadian dollar -- at the expense of manufacturers that export most of their products.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty made a similar point not long ago and was forced to apologize to Alberta Premier Alison Redford.
But Mulcair said he wasn't sorry in the least.
"I'm speaking in real time and I'm not apologizing to anyone," said Mulcair, who added that "500,000 good manufacturing jobs have been lost since the Conservatives came to power.
"More than half of those jobs ... have been lost precisely because we're not internalizing the environmental costs of operating the oilsands."
Mulcair said the federal government is not enforcing legislation that would hamper the oilsands, ignoring potential health impacts and leaving the cleanup of the region to future generations.
"If we were (enforcing legislation), the artificially high number of US dollars that we're bringing in that's driving up the Canadian dollar would decrease; we would stop destabilizing the balanced economy we have built up since the Second World War.
"That's precisely the result of the Conservative policies that are being followed."
The newly minted NDP leader was in Hamilton for the convention of the party's Ontario wing, whose delegates reaffirmed their support for Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
Like Mulcair, Horwath has worked to move her party towards the political centre and he praised her performance.
"Andrea Horwath is doing a masterful job working for and on behalf of Ontarians," Mulcair said, adding that Canadians need get used to more minority governments such as the one in Ontario.
And he went after the federal government over its recent budget, saying the Tories are putting public safety at risk by cutting food inspectors.
"When the first thing that you cut is food inspection ... it's a further indication their priorities are not well-ordered," he said.
Elected in March to succeed the late Jack Layton, Mulcair said his efforts to cement the NDP's official Opposition status and move on to become government are more about moving the Canadian centre toward the NDP rather than moving the party to the centre.