Niki Ashton represents the electoral district of Churchill in Manitoba in the Canadian parliament
What happens in our communities is no accident.
One year ago today, Vale announced that it was closing down the refinery and smelter in Thompson.
Our community decided to fight back. We joined with the Steelworkers, the City of Thompson and our NDP provincial government to fight for value added jobs in our community.
There have been some significant developments since then. Most notably the provincial government has passed legislation creating a fund from resource revenues for economic development. There may be further developments in the next weeks and months on jobs and economic development arising out of this.
What is clear is that what had happened to our community was not an isolated development. Throughout Canada and throughout the world communities have increasingly been faced with decisions made by corporations that have had devastating impacts on them.
It was also clear that politics was a key element. In Canada, Stephen Harper's Conservatives allowed the foreign takeover of Inco by Vale and then proceeded to give them millions of dollars in low interest loans to take the jobs out of our community.
What was also very obvious is the degree to which this is a part of the growing inequality in Canada and many countries throughout the world. The loss of well paid unionized jobs, the elimination of defined benefit pensions even the erosion of collective bargaining rights itself is a major contributing factor to this inequality.
This is very much the underlying agenda of the Harper Conservatives. They represent the old politics of division. An old politics that sees poverty and inequality as facts of life. They seek to erode rights that have been developed over decades and to dismantle public services.
What we need is a new politics. That rejects this divisive agenda. That sees greater equality as being key to our future. That recognizes the key role that the labour movement plays in improving the quality of life of our citizens. That believes that we need to have greater control over our economic destiny. A new politics that recognizes that political action, both electoral and through social movements is vital.
The need for new politics was one of the key reasons I recently announced that I am running for the leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada. I believe that now is the time for all progressive Canadians to work together to put forward a vision of new politics for Canada.
I will be taking our story and the story of many communities to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
It is time to think new politics. It is time to act.
April 22nd, 2014
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