The leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Jack Layton laid out his near-idealistic platform and pointed out the very realistic problems with this society on Friday, July 20, 2007 at the Ralph Thornton Community Centre. The President of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) Mr. Tom Saras, who hosted the event, referred to Layton as the socialist party leader. Layton corrected him by referring to himself as a Social Democrat.
Since there is one Estonian NDP candidate who keeps running in a very difficult riding, high school principal Maret Sadem-Thompson, (who was also the president of a teachers' federation) the platform of the NDP should be of some interest to us.
"We've found that the working families are finding it more and more difficult to get by," said Layton, adding, "the average working family was working 200 more hours per year in 2005 than they were in 1996 so in a ten year period they have added a full five weeks of work. This prosperity gap that is affecting immigrant families more than other communities."
Layton pointed out problems like highly qualified professionals, having passed a rigorous point system, coming here and ending up working menial jobs. The banking system, which charges people to take out "their" money. The high cost of gasoline, which penalizes people going to work or transporting their families.
"The most important initiative that we've brought forward in the last couple of months was the second phase of medicare, which is universal pharmaceutical insurance so that all families would have the basic prescription drugs that their doctor might prescribe for them covered by by an insurance plan similar to medicare paid for out of the general revenues of the government. We have very large surpluses now so this is the time to begin to move on these issues. The average family is spending upwards of $500 per person on medication. In other countries it is half of that because they have various forms of insurance, bulk purchasing, bulk pricing (of drugs), " said Layton.
Finally, Layton spoke of the manufacturing sector problems where we have lost a quarter of a million (250,000) manufacturing jobs in the last three years. "These are jobs that would have paid $20 to $25 per hour," said Layton. He also pointed out that our raw materials are being shipped out raw and processed elsewhere, turned into product and sold back here. "We need a manufacturing strategy (that works). We've never been afraid of competition but there has to be fairness," said Layton.
International affairs indicated that Layton was not for either war in Iraq or Afghanistan. He was proud that now more Canadians are in agreement with him. Asked what he would have done in Afghanistan he answered he would have Pakistan become more active in a peace process.
When asked how he would handle the Taliban, Layton answered, "what we recommended was a comprehensive peace process that a cease fire be the key objective. We believe that right now the approach being taken is an accelerating support for the insurgents (Taliban). NDP has shown that there have been more civilians killed by NATO forces than by the insurgents. This is inevitably driving more people towards supporting the insurgency. We've seen a rise in Canadian fatalities and an enormous increase in expenditures in this war. Ten times as much money is being spent on the military expenditures than on reconstruction." I imagine that the best "comprehensive peace process" would be to withdraw the troops, surrender to the Taliban and send the women back to wearing burkhas.
The policy arguments, before he got to the war issues were good. Let’s hope none of the other parties will steal any or all of their platforms. Let’s hope that people won't call members from the other parties and suggest the adoption of these platforms.
Jack Layton lays out his platform to the ethnic media