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Singh makes Niagara stop on the campaign trail

Hundreds of people waited in the rain for the arrival of federal NDP Leader, Jagmeet Singh who arrived on a campaign bus in Welland on Thursday.
A crowd of NDP hopefuls waited in the rain to meet NDP Federal Leader, Jagmeet Singh, who arrived in Welland, Thursday during the eleventh hour of his campaign tour.  Niagara Centre candidate Malcom Allen and Niagara West candidate Nameer Rahman joined Singh and Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath. Gloria Katch / Thorold News

Hundreds of people waited in the rain for the arrival of federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who arrived on a campaign bus in Welland, his only Niagara stop on Thursday during the last leg of his campaign tour.  

The Blue Star Restaurant, a landmark diner in Welland, dating back to the late 1940s, was filled with NDP hopeful and camera crews. 

Niagara Centre candidate Malcom Allen and Niagara West candidate Nameer Rahman and Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath also joined Singh.

“I didn’t know you could fit this many people into a diner,” he said, after acknowledging the federal and provincial NDP support in Niagara. He specifically thanked Horwath, NDP Leader of the Official Opposition in Ontario, stating that she’s been “A mentor, a boss, and she’s been my inspiration.” 

After fielding questions from reporters like Canadian Press and CBC, he waded through the crowded restaurant addressing the concerns of people, signing autographs and posing for photos for several hours before heading to Brantford and Toronto.   

He reminded everyone that Canadians have a “real choice” and don’t have to swing traditionally right or left, and reiterated his biggest platform item on a national pharmacare program, which he said would help 4.3 million Canadians save thousands of dollars a year -- “immediately.”

In answer to a statement made by a reporter that pharmacare was a plan the Liberals had in the works, Singh said the Liberals have been dragging their feet on promises they made to the public decades ago by stating: “Maybe we’ll do a study or maybe we’ll deal with the pharmacists. They’ve had 20 years to deliver. Families can’t afford to wait.”  Singh claims the Liberals have met with pharmaceutical companies and insurance lobbyists hundreds of times in the past. 

What’s problematic with the Liberals on many issues, Singh said, is: “They give a little bit. There are some people that have some coverage, but it ends up being no coverage.”  The end result is that people are still paying too much money for social programs. “It’s not good enough.”

Relaying a sense of urgency, Singh also stated the NDP would implement a national dental care program for residents to obtain coverage “right away.” Another important program on his agenda is climate change, and he said young people “can’t wait.”  

Locally, Singh said he wanted to return manufacturing jobs to Niagara to help bolster the economy. He also said he'd invest in affordable housing, which would provide jobs. “We will make real investments in housing so you have a place to call home.’’  

When a reporter asked about improving the Canadian Accessibility Act for persons with disabilities, he said, “Canada has a long way to go to improve accessibility and we are calling on a national strategy, so that no matter what your disability, you feel you are a part of society.”

In addition to the NDP’s plan to abolish the Senate, Singh said he would reform the electoral system and eliminate “the first past the post system.”  

He claims when Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was campaigning in the last election, he publicly stated hundreds of times he would eliminate it, and “now he’s still saying it. We want to bring in a system that’s proportional to government that shows that every vote counts.” 

A CBC reporter, referring to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s remarks in the news yesterday, in which he stated the minority government should hold the power, Singh said: “Just because Mr. Scheer thinks that because he gets a certain number of seats that we won’t fight that. We will continue to vote--fighting that.”  Singh was referring to various parliamentary rules that occur following an election, when one party doesn’t get a 170-seat majority, but still has to maintain the confidence of the house in order to govern and pass legislation. 

Clearly, a minority government isn’t Singh’s goal. “I want to be prime minister of Canada to put in our programs. I want Canadians to win. If you go to the NDP, we will fight for you.” 

Singh took the time to talk to a woman who wants to reform the prison system, saying her son died in prison on a petty crime, because of addictions. Singh said people with addictions need help; not jail. Earlier in the election, the NDP party announced it would extend funding for mental health for people with addictions to get treatment. He also disagreed with the cutbacks to Legal Aid Services’ funding, which was slashed by 29 per cent by the Ford government. 

Gauging Singh’s reception in Ontario, Marie Della Mattia, co-chair of the NDP campaign for Singh, told Thorold News that she campaigned with Horwath in 2018, and Singh’s campaign reception in Ontario has been “big or bigger than any place.”  

She said on a provincial level, those that voted for NDP representatives “don’t regret it,” but are disappointed with the Liberal and Conservatives who have been in power federally.

When asked by Thorold News how Singh addresses the dismay by a segment of the electorate, who may not vote NDP because of the governance of former Ontario NDP Premier, Bob Rae, Mattia replied, “Rae was a Liberal."   

Singh said the NDP design policies to “Lift people up. In fact, we see people who are excited,” he said of Ontario and Niagara’s voters.