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March 17, 2010

NDP's Dagenais attacks Harper

The Canadian Charger

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Ric Dagenais is the NDP candidate in the Ottawa riding of Nepean-Carleton.

He has a big job on his hands in trying to defeat Pierre Poilievre, Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Harper, and a man who stands at the primitive edge of the Conservative Party. 

Yet, Dagenais has a plan.

Dagenais says that if an NDP candidate sits on his hands and simply relies on core NDP support, the result will be around five to seven per cent of the vote. 

For anything more, he will have to work hard.  The strategy will be to highlight the old Tommy Douglas slogan, “People before profits.”  That will be the party’s thrust as well, he said.

The Conservatives, he remarked, claim to be frugal, but they make large expenditures when simple things could bring about big improvements.

“Encourage prevention, encourage exercise, healthy living, and waiting lists will go down.” 

Environmental measures can also pay off in better health.  “We take measures to insure that the food we eat and the water we drink are clean, but air pollution makes us sick and puts people in hospital.” 

He pointed out that we might be able to go without food for a couple of weeks, water for a few days, but only minutes without air.  Yet air pollution is tolerated.

He turned to the Tory crime and safety agenda.  The policy of increasing the rate of incarceration does not work in reducing crime.  “The experience in the United States shows that,” he said. 

Again, he returned to prevention as the better way to fight crime.  “Deal with poverty,” he urged.  At the same time, he acknowledged that the general mood on crime has had an effect on his own party’s position. 

Dagenais took aim at the current Conservative budget. 

“Banks are raking in record profits now.  With such a large deficit, why reduce taxes on them?”  He said that the reduction will amount to $7 billion for corporations. 

This cut in taxes “will not produce more jobs,” he predicted, because there are no job-creation strings attached.  As well, with foreign ownership in the corporate world, some of the benefits of the lower taxes will not even stay in Canada. 

Yet, at the same time, he pointed out, the Conservatives have raised payroll taxes, affecting small and medium-size businesses, to the tune of $13 billion.  That’s Employment Insurance.  “They say that’s not a tax,” he commented sardonically.

Canada under the Tories is exporting jobs and importing goods and services.  “The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) tax on business averages 20%.  In Canada, it is now 15%.”  We can, he predicted, look forward to “multi-nationals taking over Canadian companies” due to this sweet deal.

Dagenais took particular aim at the attitude of the Tories. 

He gave the example of Helena Guergis’ “pompous” encounter with airport staff in Prince Edward Island.  She wanted to be passed through without having to go through the routine screening process.  “They put the rules in themselves,” he said incredulously.  It’s an attitude of “entitlement.”

Then there’s the matter of his opponent, the current MP Pierre Poilievre.  Just before Harper made his apology to First Nations, Poilievre was on the radio telling Indians that they need to learn the value of hard work more than they need financial compensation.  And, he added, with a poke at another leading Tory, “Jim Flaherty told people not to invest in Ontario.”

Dagenais himself is actively engaged in the community, outside his job at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). 

He sits on the board of Shepherds of Good Hope, an agency that serves the homeless and disadvantaged, and volunteers on their soup line on Saturdays.

He is also president of the board of Causeway, an agency providing employment and educational programs for disadvantaged people with disabilities and with problems related to homelessness. 

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