NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is the first major party leader to participate in a Facebook Q&A, in a format that allowed for carefully crafted answers -- but also unscripted questions and criticism from voters.

Most of the questions he chose to answer were about the economy -- one of the top election issues given ongoing concerns over a Canadian recession and world market volatility.

As he has said repeatedly on the campaign, Mulcair vowed to “put middle-class families first,” with help for small businesses and the manufacturing industry.

He said an NDP government would lower the tax rate for small- and medium-sized business from 11 per cent to nine per cent.

“We'll put money back in the hands of almost 700,000 small businesses because they create 80% of new jobs in our country,” he wrote.

Mulcair also repeated his position on Bill C-51, saying an NDP government would try to repeal the legislation. And he said the New Democrats would launch a public inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women within 100 days of forming government.

“It is a Canadian tragedy,” he wrote. “The families who have lost mothers, daughters, sisters and aunties deserve justice and closure.”

He did not answer questions on pipeline projects, what an NDP government would do with the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, and health care, among others.

The Q&A also showed that Mulcair still faces criticism over his late decision to participate in “Up For Debate,” a discussion on women’s issues. Organizers had wanted a televised debate, but Mulcair said he would not attend unless Conservative Leader Stephen Harper would also be present.

Now organizers have changed the format to pre-recorded one-on-one interviews with leaders that will be released on Sept. 21.

“I'm very excited to be participating in the ‘Up For Debate’ interviews that are now being scheduled,” Mulcair wrote in the Q&A. “I believe that all other party leaders have accepted, except one... guess who? Even though Mr. Harper hasn't accepted, I looking forward to participating in the interviews.”

Facebook user Jean Lion blamed Mulcair for the new format: “Tom, you know they changed the format to interviews because you pulled out of the debate format. This is disappointing. What other commenters here say about the NDP policy on women's issues is correct - it's the best of all the major parties. But as for promoting democratic debate, I'm afraid this is a major fail.”

The Q&A did have one light-hearted question.

A participant named Bradley Gelinas asked Mulcair what his “first drink of choice” will be “when you win this upcoming election.”

Mulcair answered: “We have 8 more weeks of incredibly hard work between now and the election, but if you want to come and join us on election night there will be plenty of Orange Crush.”

You can see all of Mulcair’s answers below, including responses, and what questions he didn’t answer:


 

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Posted by Tom Mulcair on Thursday, August 27, 2015