NDP leadership hopeful, Jagmeet Singh, swings through Lunenburg

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Jagmeet Singh, leadership candidate for the federal NDP, was at the Lunenburg Library August 28 as part as a campaign swing through the province.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Jagmeet Singh, the leadership candidate for the federal NDP, is a criminal lawyer from Toronto. He was at the Lunenburg library August 28 on a campaign swing through the province.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Jagmeet Singh, the leadership candidate for the federal NDP, positions for a selfie with attendees of his campaign stop at the Lunenburg Library August 28.</p>

The federal New Democrat Party leadership candidate, Jagmeet Singh, says he recognizes that one of the key issues facing Atlantic Canada is "youth migration."

Singh made the comment to LighthouseNOW following a campaign stop at the Lunenburg Library August 28, which attracted about 20 people.

"I've learned this from speaking to folks, youth migration has been a big topic that's come up. That rural communities are seeing a lot of young people leaving the community because they can't find opportunities in their own rural communities," said Singh.

"This is something across Canada that we're seeing. And what we need to do is invest in rural communities. Make sure there are opportunities here. People leave when there's not jobs, not a future," he added.

Singh noted that in the current information technology economy, "You don't need, actually, to be in urban centres. You can be in rural areas and develop different applications and technologies as long as you have good, high-speed internet connections."

He agreed that in itself also was an issue in many rural areas, however.

"So what I would say is we need to invest in is high-speed internet infrastructure as a right across Canada. If we have that infrastructure in place, then you can create technology hubs anywhere. Anywhere there's people living. And, in fact, it might be advantageous to live in communities where the housing costs are lower and you can actually work to build your business up," said Singh.

The Toronto criminal defence lawyer was in Lunenburg as part of a campaign swing through Nova Scotia.

During the hour-long speech and question-and-answer period, Singh highlighted what he said were the four key policy pillars of his campaign.

The first was inequality. "Inequality is something that's growing in our society. We were just talking over some lunch about the fact that this is the first generation, when it comes to young people, that their futures are less hopeful than the past. They are less likely to be able to earn the same type of income that their parents were able to learn. And that's the reality.

"Income equality specifically, but we know that there are other types of inequality," continued Singh, referring to the lack of affordable housing, which he called "a crisis across Canada."

Not only can people not afford to own a home, many are struggling to rent a place, he noted. "And that's getting really scary."

The second pillar of his campaign is climate change. "We can inspire people to move in the right direction toward tackling climate change," said Singh.

The third is that "we need to get rid of this strategic voting once and for all and implement electoral reform."

Singh said he was looking at proportional representation with mixed members and a regional list.

"So that different communities will see that they're getting representation for their communities. So the South Shore will still feel confident that they can have a local representative that they feel confident can raise the issues that matter to the community here. "

Singh said it was "offensive" that you can get 40 per cent of the vote, or less than 40 per cent of the vote, "but get 100 per cent of the power. "

The fourth pillar is reconciliation, "and how important it is for us to move forward as a country in terms of justice."

Singh said this "must be done by making sure that the first people of this land are acknowledged, and that they receive the justice that they deserve."

In terms of policies, he said he liked the idea of a basic income guarantee, and suggested this could be aimed at seniors and Canadians with disabilities.

"In a country as rich as ours, it's just incredibly unacceptable that we have seniors living in poverty," said Singh.

He suggested this would be funded through "a progressive tax system that makes sure that those who can invest more are asked to invest more."

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