Federal New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair was in Saskatoon on Monday to announce his party’s position on violence against women.
Speaking at Saskatoon’s Station 20 West building, Mulcair promised a crowd of supporters that, if elected, the NDP would create a national strategy to ensure women and children in need aren’t turned away from shelters.
“In April of 2014, on just one night, 338 women and 201 children fleeing violence were turned away from shelters because there weren’t enough spaces. That’s unacceptable in a country like Canada,” Mulcair said.
“I’m committing today that under an NDP government we will take action to ensure that never again will a woman in need be turned away from a shelter.”
Mulcair said the NDP would restore the federal government’s Shelter Enhancement Program and would be putting back funding of $40 million over four years. Mulcair said they would also invest in more affordable housing and homelessness programs.
“More than twice as many women in Saskatchewan report being victims of violence as the national average,” Mulcair said. “Indigenous women are four times more likely to face violence than other women in Canada.”
While recognizing the one year anniversary of the murder of Winnipeg teenager Tina Fontaine, Mulcair also re-stated his party’s pledge to hold a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women within 100 days of taking office.
“I say this to every mother, to every daughter, to every sister, it’s time you had a Prime Minister who cares,” Mulcair said.
While answering a reporter’s question about Aboriginal women, Mulcair said the inaction towards missing and murdered indigenous women is because of an “underlying attitude of racism.”
Another question came from a recent statement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a campaign stop in Quebec last week when he said the NDP are proposing reckless spending plans without Mulcair saying how he will pay for them. Mulcair said their spending breakdown of big ticket promises would eventually come.
“We are going to be doing that in great detail but every step of the way we have been backed by high-level economists who have looked at our funding,” Mulcair said.
Mulcair also spoke about maintaining a good working relationship with provincial premiers if elected.
“Premier (Brad) Wall and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything but I can tell you I have a decent working relationship with him and when I sat down with him the last time we agreed on one thing, that it’s high time we got rid of the senate,” Mulcair said.
But Mulcair was less clear on whether he agreed with Wall about ending equalization payments, which are designed to enable poorer provinces to offer government services at tax levels similar to richer jurisdictions.
“On an important issue like equalization, don’t forget it’s constitutionalized, it’s complex, it does require an open discussion and I don’t want to set one against the other,” Mulcair said. “I want us to all benefit from an understanding that when we succeed together we make Canada a stronger country.”
Mulcair’s next stop will be in Penticton, B.C Monday night.