After speaking in the Cowichan Valley on Thursday, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh continued his cross-Canada tour with a stop in Victoria on Friday.
“We want you to know that throughout this pandemic, we’ve been fighting for you,” Singh told a meet and greet crowd at Bear & Joey Cafe. “We’ve been fighting to get you more help.”
The NDP leader repeatedly took aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who Singh said is looking for an excuse for an election – adding there’s no reason the government can’t finish the two years remaining in this parliamentary cycle.
“What we need to do right now is focus on getting help to people, and if Justin Trudeau wants to do that and if his announcements aren’t just for show, then he can continue to work with me to deliver the help that Canadians need,” he said.
The Liberals calling an election before the pandemic is over would be wrong, Singh said, adding he’d leave it to public health officials to say when it would be safe to send Canadians to the polls.
If an election is looming, Singh said Canadians should know the NDP were the ones to push for strengthened pandemic supports - like the wage subsidy, paid sick leave and help for students.
“Justin Trudeau tried to do the minimum at every step,” he said.
When asked about the town of Lytton, Singh said it was another example of the climate crisis needing immediate action – and that Trudeau’s policies have not met the issue’s urgency.
“We saw that vulnerable seniors bore the brunt of that heat wave and that hundreds of people lost their lives,” he said.
“An entire community was devastated, people lost their homes and we know that we need to act.”
The government should proactively prepare communities for disasters, he said, and an NDP government would retrofit homes, invest in renewables and reduce emissions – all while creating jobs.
Singh said Indigenous leaders were right to denounce places of worship being burned, adding that the fires are “dangerous and wrong.” He said it puts communities and people at risk, but acknowledged the “real pain and trauma people feel, because there’s clearly a role that the church played in the residential institution.”
He called on the Trudeau government to end court battles against Indigenous groups and implement all of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.
The path to reconciliation is a difficult one, Singh said, but one that must be walked with “compassion and love and justice.”
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