LEVIS, Que. — Stephen Harper and his Quebec MPs have done little for the Quebec City area and should be booted out, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Wednesday while touring the region in hopes of reducing the Conservatives' Quebec power base.
Mulcair and the NDP believe they remain competitive in the ridings surrounding Quebec City, where the Conservatives are polling their strongest in the province.
The NDP leader began the day with a speech in a park across the St. Lawrence from the capital, in Levis, Que., which is part of a riding last won by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.
"Stephen Harper has done nothing for this region since he's been (in office)," Mulcair said.
Mulcair said Blaney has failed to deliver on major federal contracts for the nearby Davie shipyard.
"All you have to do to understand why it hasn't worked for Stephen Harper and why his ministers are inefficient is to look at the Davie shipyard," Mulcair said.
"You'll realize that Blaney hasn't been able to deliver anything for that major industrial area."
Quebec politicians seethed when Ottawa announced in 2011 that major multibillion-dollar shipbuilding contracts would go to Halifax and Vancouver and not Levis.
The government announced in June that it was in discussions with Davie for a contract to retrofit a ship to be used temporarily as a supply vessel for the navy.
Mulcair said that's meaningless.
"All Blaney got was a vague letter of intention," he said. "What good is that?"
Mulcair said Quebecers in 2011 contributed to "changing the face of Canada" when they voted en masse for the NDP, electing 59 out of 75 candidates.
"Working together, let's finish what we started."
The Conservatives, however, are looking to keep the seats they have in the region and get more, mostly at the expense of the NDP MPs in the area.
Polling suggests Tories could at least double their 2011 Quebec seat total of five after the Oct. 19 election.
Harper's Quebec lieutenant, Denis Lebel, often travels the province trying to persuade Quebecers that Conservative values of low taxes and an aggressive approach to crime and national security are also Quebec values.
On Wednesday afternoon Mulcair crossed the St. Lawrence and gave a speech outside Quebec City's famed Chateau Frontenac, where he was interrupted several times by a screaming anti-pipeline protester.
Protesters against TransCanada's Energy East pipeline proposal dogged Mulcair at campaign stops earlier in the week in Toronto and Montreal.
The yelling man, Michel Martin, said he doesn't trust Mulcair's pledge to require a credible, independent and thorough analysis of energy projects.
"Mulcair changes his story about pipelines depending on where he is in Canada," he said. "I'm not even that political, but believe it or not, the Liberal party has better environmental policies than the NDP."
The NDP leader shrugged off Martin's screams during his speech and even managed to fire off a quick joke at his expense.
"And the fact that I came from a family of ten children gave me the ability to ignore the noise around me," Mulcair said with a laugh.
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