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Federal NDP should look to Manitoba model: Mulcair

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NDP leadership hopeful Thomas Mulcair says the federal party ought to model itself on Gary Doer’s Manitoba.

"I think Mr. Doer did a tremendous job here," said Muclair, in town Wednesday to woo local New Democrats. "Gary Doer represents exactly the model of what the NDP has to be – reliable, capable, explaining to people we can do the job competently and yet keeping with our strong roots."

In an interview Wednesday morning the at the Free Press News Cafe, Mulcair said the federal party needs to expand its base and reconnect with its traditional roots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the party’s birthplace but where there’s no longer a single NDP MP.

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Asked whether he is trying to move the party more toward the centre, away from the party’s traditional labour roots, Mulcair said, "I am trying to move the centre to us."

The Quebec MP, who is seen as one of the front-runners to replace the late Jack Layton as opposition leader, also riffed on the political lethargy surrounding climate change, a better tax deal for cities and the federal crime bills.

He said, despite the provincial NDP’s support for the federal crime bills, the Harper government’s tough-on-crime agenda simply won’t work.

"It’s a fake recipe to say that throwing people into jail with a mandatory minimum sentence for a few pot plants is somehow a sinacure, a miraculous way of solving crime on our streets," he said "It’s just not true."

And, he warned that provinces such as Manitoba will find themselves saddled with huge costs for new prisons and clogged courts in the coming years.

Earlier in the morning, flanked by former Manitoba premier Ed Schreyer, Mulcair vowed to battle the Harper government's nearly-successful attempt to neuter the Canadian Wheat Board.

Mulcair said an NDP government would recreate the CWB if Ottawa succeeds in dismantling it. And, Mulcair vowed to use Wednesday’s federal court ruling as ammunition in parliament.

"If the court gives us extra leeway to leverage more support for the wheat board, that's what we're going to do," said Mulcair outside the board's Main Street headquarters.

Schreyer, who also served as Canada's Governor General, said he believes Mulcair is the best candidate in the big field of leadership hopefuls to tackle energy policy and climate change, as well as the growing income disparity in Canada.

Many high-profile Manitoba New Democrats have already endorsed Ottawa MP Paul Dewar, who has sewn up the support of several provincial cabinet ministers. Meanwhile, several northern Manitoba politicians and First Nations leaders have thrown their weight behind Churchill MP Niki Ashton, who is also running for NDP leader.

History

Updated on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 1:45 PM CST: Updates with full writethru, adds, Mulcair's comments on Manitoba's NDP

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