'I'm seeking to defeat Stephen Harper': One-on-one with Tom Mulcair
In the last week of the federal election campaign, CTV News has invited all party leaders to make their closing arguments before voters head to the polls on Oct. 19.
CTV News Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme sat down with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair on Tuesday. Here’s a transcript of their conversation:
Lisa LaFlamme: I watched all the press conferences today. Stephen Harper didn’t mention your name. He’s basically trying to write you off. Justin Trudeau barely mentioned your name. I want to get your view on the fact that you started out in the number one position. Now, here were are, five days to go and you’re at traditional third-place NDP levels. We know why the pundits think this slide happened, but what do you think?
Thomas Mulcair: Well, I know those same pundits said that in 2011 that we were in fourth place in Quebec and we went on to win 59 seats. I also know this is the first time in Canadian history that we have a real three-way race and that's why we're so excited. The energy that we get from events we did yesterday in B.C., yesterday afternoon in Saskatoon, this morning in Oshawa.
That's the energy that's going to carry us through. Canadians see a lot of hope in the NDP, breaking with a tradition that's 148 years old, saying there's another way this time. For the first time, the NDP is the official opposition. We have a clear plan. We've got an amazing team. We want to start undoing the damage that Stephen Harper has caused. Kick-start the economy. Create hope. Give an opportunity to every Canadian family. That's what we want to do. Help them get ahead.
LaFlamme: Anecdotally though, since that massive turnout of advance voters over the Thanksgiving Day long weekend, there were a lot of people saying they want the Conservatives out and even soft NDPers have been going to the Liberals.
Mulcair: Well, I can tell you, we've been measuring that vote and our vote shows very clearly that our supporters came out very strongly and it is a strong harbinger for change that advanced poll that was higher than it usually is. And that's exactly what we're seeing across the country. As Catherine and I have travelled from coast to coast to coast, the number one thing that we've heard is that Canadians want change.
But we're also hearing from a lot people who used to vote Conservative or even Liberal and they realize that this time, if they want real change, it's with the NDP. Because on a whole range of issues, whether it's Bill C-51 where I stood up with the NDP caucus and voted against it, Mr. Trudeau voted with it, along with Mr. Harper. Corporate tax cuts for largest corporations, we're the only ones saying, hey let's make them pay some of that back by raising their tax rate by 2 per cent. Mr. Trudeau wants to leave tens of billions of dollars on the next generation. We disagree with that.
LaFlamme: But there's actually a lot of people who, even your own supporters, find a problem with your own approach on that. You know, balanced budgets, no tax increases...that you've allowed Justin Trudeau to basically scoop up what was always NDP territory.
Mulcair: Well, Justin Trudeau won't raise the taxes of Canada's largest corporations. I will. And I'll use that to help pay for quality, affordable $15 a day childcare. I'm also going to stand up against Mr. Harper's Trans Pacific partnership deal because, as we said in Oshawa today, that will result in tens of thousands of Canadian jobs being lost.
LaFlamme: But on the TPP, it was actually a bit of a surprise considering in August, you said you were enthusiastically in favour of it.
Mulcair: No, what I said was I was enthusiastically in favour of trade, enhanced trade. But you have to look at the deal. Mr. Harper went and signed the deal, with two weeks left in the campaign that will cost tens of thousands of Canadian jobs. It will cost seniors more for their medication, their prescription drugs.
It'll hurt the environment. We've got more than enough information from the government, so did senior economists, like Jim Stanford, who have made the exact same calculations as we have...And it'll cost tens of thousands of Canadian jobs. And by the way, Lisa, why doesn't Stephen Harper make the whole deal public, if he thinks it's such a good deal?
LaFlamme: Well, Trade Minister Ed Fast says he is going to put out what he calls a provisional text. What do you expect?
Mulcair: And that would be 48 hours out from the election? Look, we know what's in there. We know that it'll hurt the environment. We know that it'll cost seniors more for healthcare. Stephen Harper has already cut $36 billion from the health-care budget. We want to create more opportunities to have doctors taking care of Canadian families. We want drugs to cost less. We want to work with the provinces and territories to bring in full pharmacare. That's what we're talking about. We're talking about the environment. We're talking about making sure that Canadians have a break, for once. With the NDP they're going to get that. We're going to start standing up for the jobs. People have confidence. They've seen me stand up against Stephen Harper in the House. They know that I'm going to stand up for their communities and their jobs.
LaFlamme: Now I know you think these polls are all rogue then, obviously. But do you feel, given the numbers and now the climb of the Liberals that you've underestimated Justin Trudeau?
Mulcair: No, what I've done in this campaign is talk to Canadians and try to give them confidence in themselves. I know I have confidence in my team and in our plan. I know I can kick-start the economy. Create opportunity for every Canadian family, help them get ahead. I want to work on healthcare. I have a clear track record on the environment. When I was the minister of the environment, I lowered greenhouse gas emissions every year. Mr. Trudeau doesn't even want to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We're going to get this done. Whether it's the environment, whether it's healthcare, whether it's jobs, the NDP is the party that Canadians know they can have confidence in.
LaFlamme: Now I have to ask you because you're here... you had an opportunity to go face to face with Justin Trudeau in a network television debate. Ten million people would have seen that. Instead, you followed Stephen Harper's lead and decided you didn't want to participate. Do you regret that now?
Mulcair: That information, I don't know who gave that to you, but it's simply false. The NDP took part every step of the way in the consortium talks. I wanted to be in that debate. But of course, I'm seeking to defeat and replace Stephen Harper.
LaFlamme: But when Stephen Harper said no to that debate, your people put out a press saying we're not going to participate in a debate that isn't with Stephen Harper.
Mulcair: Well, the person I'm seeking to defeat and replace is Stephen Harper. It's not Justin Trudeau. My adversary throughout this whole campaign has been Stephen Harper. He's the person I have to defeat. Justin Trudeau is spending a lot of time attacking me. He was in NDP ridings today. I was in Conservative ridings, across Ontario and the rest of Canada, you'll see me taking on Stephen Harper. He's the person I want to defeat. That's my adversary in this campaign.
LaFlamme: But Canadians who don't want the Conservatives are making a choice between the NDP or the Liberals.
Mulcair: Well, I can tell you this. Every step of the way I've participated in debates where Mr. Harper was there. There have been five televised debates, more than in any other election campaign.
LaFlamme: Very few people saw them though...
Mulcair: They were of very uneven quality and I would agree with you on that. And I would have sincerely preferred that Stephen Harper accept, but that was the reality of that. So no, I didn't have time to take on individual debates with people as long as the Prime Minister wasn't there. Because this is about 10 years of Stephen Harper. This is about 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost, 300,000 more unemployed today than when the crisis hit. This is about the Canada that Stephen Harper has made the only country in the world to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol.
LaFlamme: But if he manages to get a minority government next Monday night, you've already said you won't be seduced by any throne speech. So how are you and Justin Trudeau going to kiss and make up after this very negative campaign?
Mulcair: You're right. If socially, economically and environmentally I've never had anything in common with Stephen Harper, what he's played in this election as a game on race, ethnicity, religion is something that is beneath contempt for a sitting Prime Minister and I want nothing to do with the man and the game that he's played. With regards to the Liberals, it should be born in mind that in 2008, the NDP actually wrote the coalition agreement...
LaFlamme: Yes, but this is 2015 now. We've come a long way from 2008.
Mulcair: Hold on. It is worth bearing in mind that it was Mr. Trudeau who signed that agreement and it was he and the rest of the Liberals who walked away from their own signature and we were stuck with Stephen Harper for another seven years. I have opened the door, as you know Lisa, because you covered it, I have opened any number of times to co-operating with the Liberals. And every time Justin Trudeau takes it upon himself very personally to shut the door.
And when I say personally, it's just that. He says he could work with the NDP but not as long as I'm there. Well I'll tell you what: my adversary in this campaign is Stephen Harper. He's the one I have to take on, defeat and replace. We've got the plan to kick-start the economy, to create good jobs, to bring back the healthcare spending that Mr. Harper has cut. And we've got a great track record in plan on the environment. On October 19, we plan to form our first government in Canadian history.