Tom Mulcair's Washington gambit -

Tom Mulcair’s Washington gambit

The NDP leader talks up Canada-U.S. co-operation


Fred Chartrand/CP

Tom Mulcair’s spent the past few weeks convincing Canadians that the NDP is a friend, not foe to the oil patch—a pitch that fell flat in some corners. Now, Mulcair is hoping to sell his message on U.S.-Canada economic cooperation to an American audience.

This morning, the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., heard what Mulcair had to say about the importance of the trading relationship Canada enjoys with the United States, the opportunities and pitfalls of foreign investment in Alberta’s oil sands, the necessity of environmental sustainability, the dangers of an unelected Senate, the pity of voter disengagement in Canada, the many ills of Harper’s Conservatives, and the many virtues of Mulcair’s NDP. To say the least, the speech was not boring.

“Good morning, eh?” Mulcair opened, before galloping through prepared remarks that topped 2,800 words. He mostly stuck to his script early on, hardly taking a breath between sentences. “It’s an honour to be here with you today to discuss how our two countries can work together to build a balanced, sustainable North American economy in the 21st century.”

The NDP leader signed off on the same wavelength. “In the last century, our two countries served as a model of partnership and progress for a waiting world. We built that partnership on the strength of these values. In the 21st century, as we prepare ourselves for an increasingly complex set of challenges, let’s re-commit to those same values, and to those who share them. When we look out onto a horizon filled with uncertainty, it is those most familiar and most ardent principles that will give us strength. And that will allow us to overcome even the most daunting hurdles. Together, we always have.”

What was sandwiched in between was more interesting.

He praised the economic partnership that crosses the 49th parallel. “We both enjoy modern, dynamic economies. We both respect fundamental labour, environmental and human rights. These shared values are the strength upon which our economic relationship has been built,” said Mulcair. “When it comes to our economic partnership, those shared principles have served pragmatic ends.”

Does that mean the cornerstone of that partnership, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was pragmatic? Mulcair shed some light on that during the question period that followed, when he specifically noted that free trade in professional services has been “quite productive” on both sides of the border. When he was running for the NDP leadership, Mulcair previously argued in favour of the same NAFTA provisions he highlighted this morning at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Later, while commenting on the potential Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and Europe, Mulcair talked about erasing trade barriers that serve no purpose. He pointed to the gradual evolution of the European Coal and Steel Community into, eventually, the European Union as the preeminent example of nations working together for common economic ends. “If there’s no need for a barrier, don’t have it,” he said.

If ever there was any doubt that a Canadian political leader could head to D.C. and slam his country’s prime minister, Mulcair blew that doubt out of the water. He interrupted his prepared remarks only to insert anecdotes explaining exactly where he thinks Harper’s team has gone wrong. He saved his strongest ad libs for the government’s changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. And he didn’t stop there. There was much more.

What else did Mulcair say?

He repeated his common refrain about exploiting the riches that lie beneath: “New Democrats believe that Canada’s natural resources are a tremendous blessing. They can be a source of wealth and prosperity for our country for generations to come.”

He bashed Canada’s Senate, and admonished its American counterpart: “In an unprecedented move for an initiative of such importance, this bill was killed in Canada’s unelected Senate, much in the same way that ground-breaking climate change legislation was killed in your Senate a few years ago. Though the end result may be the same, at least you can take solace in the fact that your Senate is elected.”

He praised Canada’s relationship with the U.S.: “Canada and the United States have enjoyed a close economic relationship that—while not always perfect—has overwhelmingly served the interests of both sides.”

He seemed to credit the NDP with creating Canada’s world renowned financial system: “What is far less understood is that the strength of Canada’s financial system is built as much on our values as it is on our expertise. Canada was not immune to the siren call of financial deregulation that swept across the rest of the developed world just over a decade ago. In the 1990’s, Canada’s Liberal and Conservative parties alike joined the chorus. It was only New Democrats who held the anchor tight against the calls for radical deregulation. Today, Canadians are grateful that we did.”

He seemed to impart wisdom on American elected officials: “The United States faces a serious long-term budget challenge. That cannot be denied. But the arbitrary austerity of sequestration is not a solution to that challenge or to any other. Neither are the gridlock and brinksmanship that have gripped your Capitol. At its heart, the pursuit of public life must be the pursuit of the public interest and of good government.”

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Tom Mulcair’s Washington gambit

  1. Sounds reasonable to me. But the mouthbreather’s heads will explode as soon as they get their talking points.

    • Judging by the sound of Joe Oliver, his already has.

  2. Way to go Tommy :) – nice speech – straddled a few lines and came down on point – he is being quite clever of late – I can’t wait for both Harper and Mulcair to be duking it out and then watch Mulcair throw Justin to the side of the road with one swipe and Harper drive over the cold remains ! .. although have to admit that I imagine right now that both Harper and Mulcair are heaving a heavy sigh of relief that Garneau has pulled out of the leadership race – this is the best news us Tories have heard in awhile as he was the only real competition .. shiny pony won’t be looking so shiny in a while and that’s for sure :)

  3. What a drivel!

    What does Mr.Mulcair think about the amount of coal being used in the US?

    And what does Mr.Mulcair think about all of the Chinese products entering into North America?

    Is Mulcair even able to link all of the dots together?

    Simple, simple, simple man.

  4. As I recall, the NDP vociferously opposed both FTA and NAFTA. I suspect that had they had any power at the time, they would have nationalized the banking sector. Indeed they still whine about banks profits as if profitable businesses are a blight on this nation.

    • I see Harper is bailing out Air Canada – again. How is this fiscal conservatism?

      • No he isn”t. AC is permitted to extend its timeline for re-capitalization of its pension fund. How is that anything remotely like bailing them out?

  5. Thomas Mulcair has not learn a fundamental lesson in life.. You can criticize the family members all you want in the confines of other family. When yo try it outside the family you find that all other members consider you washing family laundry in public and will never forgive you. He will find this quit obvious in the 2015 election when both Conservatives and Liberals make it an election issue supported by many NDP.

    • Right… like op-ed piece of Harper in NYTimes at the beginning of the Iraq war.

  6. Furryface; you are an idiot

    • Jesus….and probably all the disciples….were ‘furryfaces’

      • So were Castro and the other commies in Cuba

        • Therefore…beards are irrelevant…so move on.

          • No you are irrelevant…. so you move on

          • Ahh yes, yer the guy who claims to be a christian, and talks like a 5 year old.

          • I am so hurt.Not troll

          • Of course you’re not. Christians are the biggest hypocrites on the planet.

            Not to mention, ignorant.

          • I dont think all atheists are stupid retards because of you

          • LOL you aren’t even christian….give it up.

          • LOL Who are you to judge me,God, hyprocrite

          • Tsk tsk….you don’t even know what Jesus said…..some christian YOU are. LOL

          • Christians are told to tell the truth you are a tool. God bless

          • Then stop lying….oh, and love thy neighbour, turn the other cheek and all that. Ciao

          • You’re always lying….it’s what Con christians do. Nite.

          • Inane generalization by a person who is always inane