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FLARE Questionnaire: NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair

On the eve of #elxn42, we asked the party leaders for their takes on the issues that matter to you—including access to abortion, sexual violence, the wage gap and more. Read on to find out where NDP leader Thomas Mulcair stands before you hit the polls on October 19

thomas Mulcair

Canadian women get paid 75 cents to every dollar men make. What would your government do to close that gap and ensure equal pay for equal work?
Unfortunately, more than 10 years after the report of the Task Force on Pay Equity, we are no closer to closing the pay gap for women in Canada. In fact, the Liberals and the Conservatives voted together to remove the right to pay equity for public servants. An NDP government will restore pay equity for public-sector workers. We will also introduce proactive pay equity legislation and implement the outstanding recommendations of the Task Force.

Millennials are now the biggest generation in the Canadian workforce, but they face an increasingly precarious job market. What will you do to address that instability?
Right now, youth unemployment is double the national average and CIBC has said that the quality of jobs in Canada is at an all-time low. The NDP has a plan to create the quality jobs young people need to thrive. We will kickstart manufacturing and small-business job creation. We will partner with the private sector and NGOs to create additional employment opportunities for 40,000 young Canadians. And we will put an end to the abuse of unpaid interns in federal jurisdictions, ensuring that young Canadians are fairly paid and receive important workplace protections.

What will you do to increase political engagement amongst millennial women?
When governments are making decisions that don’t reflect the priorities of youth, the result is an economic, environmental and social debt left to be paid by future generations. That’s why it’s so important that young people vote. And that’s why we’re making an effort to speak directly with young women, to engage them in our campaigns, to talk about the issues that are important to youth and to encourage them to vote. The Conservatives have tried to prevent young people from voting with the changes they made in the “Unfair” Elections Act. We are sharing information about how young people can register to vote, to make sure that everyone is able to exercise their democratic rights.

How do we get more women into Parliament?
Gender parity won’t happen anytime soon if we don’t work at it. The only way to get more women elected is to nominate more women as candidates, especially in winnable ridings. In 2011, the NDP nominated the largest slate of female candidates in Canadian history [124 out of 308] and 40 percent of the NDP MPs Canadians elected were women. This year, a record 43 percent of our candidates are women. Our Agnes Macphail Fund [named for the first woman elected to Parliament] also provides support for female candidates, recognizing that they have expenses that men may not have.

Surgical abortions are not available in Prince Edward Island; instead women must travel at their own expense to Moncton or Halifax. What would you do to improve access?
I support a woman’s right to choose—no matter where she lives. Under the Canada Health Act, provinces and territories must provide coverage for all medically necessary services, including abortion and other sexual and reproductive health services. An NDP government will enforce the principles of the Canada Health Act to ensure that all women have meaningful access to the services they need, including abortion.

Sexual assault and harassment—especially in the workplace—has been one of the biggest issues to emerge in Canada in 2015. What policies would you implement to curb this?
On a single night in April 2014, more than 500 women and children who were fleeing violence were turned away from shelters across this country. Despite this horrific number, Stephen Harper has consistently shown that ending violence against women and girls is just not a priority for his government. We believe that the federal government has a crucial role to play in combatting violence against women at all levels of our society.

An NDP government will work with women’s groups and other stakeholders to create a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women that includes policies to prevent violence and to provide support to survivors. We will restore the Shelter Enhancement Program ended by the Conservatives in order to expand access to shelter and transition resources for women and girls needing support so that no woman in need is ever turned away.

The National Action Plan will also address measures to prevent, investigate and remedy sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as ensure that the important sexual harassment protections of the Canada Labour Code cover interns.

Similarly, consent was a major conversation across college and university campuses in 2015. Do you believe that consent education should be mandatory at post-secondary institutions?
Consent is an issue at the heart of eliminating violence against women. In developing our National Action Plan on Violence Against Women, we will work with women’s groups and colleges and universities to ensure that it addresses the need for widespread education on human rights, healthy relationships and consent.

There is a shockingly high number of murdered and missing indigenous women in this country. Will you call for a national inquiry? If not, why not and what will you do instead?
Long before this campaign started, I committed to launching an inquiry within the first 100 days of taking office. It is the right thing to do, and it would be a priority for an NDP government.

If elected, what’s the first thing you’d do to combat climate change?
In 2007, Jack Layton tabled the Climate Change Accountability Act, the only federal legislation that requires government to set emissions reductions targets—and to hold government accountable. It was passed by the House of Commons, only to be defeated by the unelected, Conservative-dominated Senate with no study or debate. It was the first time in 75 years that the Senate voted to defeat legislation duly adopted by the House of Commons.

We will reintroduce that legislation and begin work to reduce Canada’s reliance on fossil fuels by supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation. We’ll end fossil fuel subsidies, and implement a cap-and-trade system that puts a price on carbon.

Many young women have no idea how crazy expensive daycare is—and how hard it is to obtain a spot in the first place. How would your government make childcare more accessible and affordable?
Canadian families are struggling to pay the costs of child care—which rival, and in some cases exceed, their mortgage payments. And that’s when they’re lucky enough to find a space at all. Families, businesses and the economy are paying the price. Work-life conflict experienced by employees with preschool children costs the Canadian business community $4 billion per year and creates untold stress for parents. After years of broken promises by Liberal and Conservative governments, the NDP believes it’s time to act. Our plan for affordable childcare will create or maintain one million quality spaces that cost parents no more than $15 a day.

More on #elxn42: 
#elxn42: The Party Leaders Take Our FLARE Questionnaire
Prime Minister and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s FLARE Questionnaire
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s FLARE Questionnaire
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s FLARE Questionnaire