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NDP Leader Tom Mulcair miffed at being blocked from visiting flood front

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Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair speaks to the Toronto Region Board of Trade on June 20, 2014. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken a chopper tour of flood-stricken southern Manitoba but apparently his government doesn't see any need for NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to see the disaster zone for himself.

CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair speaks to the Toronto Region Board of Trade on June 20, 2014. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken a chopper tour of flood-stricken southern Manitoba but apparently his government doesn't see any need for NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to see the disaster zone for himself.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says it is "regrettable" that the federal Conservatives intervened to prevent him from visiting the flood front today.

A military commander had agreed to allow the federal opposition leader to tour a command post, meet soldiers and get a close-up view of flood preparation efforts until Defence Minister Rob Nicholson pulled the plug on the trip last night, Mulcair said.

Instead, the NDP leader called a news conference at The Forks where he praised the flood fighting effort and berated the Conservatives for the snub and their refusal to take climate change seriously.

"Quite frankly, we find that regrettable," he said of the Harper government’s intervention. "There are times when everyone just has to come together and put partisan politics aside."

Mulcair said he had spoken by telephone earlier today with Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst and the deputy mayor of Portage la Prairie. He said they were both hopeful that their flood defences would hold.

The NDP leader also lamented reports that one million acres of Manitoba crops would be lost due to flooding and wet conditions that prevented farmers from seeding in the first place.

Many believe that the weather events that have prompted more frequent - and devastating - flooding in Manitoba and elsewhere is the result of climate change.

Mulcair picked up on that theme to blast the federal Conservatives. "Climate change is real. It has to be dealt with. Unfortunately we have a government that doesn’t believe it’s a problem," he said.

A spokesperson for Nicholson told the Canadian Press that the minister has nixed all tours of the flood zone for the time being. "The next 48 hours are key to dealing with the Manitoba flood as it is expected to push through Portage la Prairie," she said.

However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper toured the Brandon area in a helicopter on Sunday and met with civic and provincial officials in the city that day when the Assiniboine River was at its crest there.

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