Chrystia Freeland Hits NDP On 'Leap Manifesto,' Says Party Wants To Shut Down Energy Industry

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A key Liberal minister has used the so-called "Leap Manifesto" as a weapon against federal New Democrats.

"We learned something interesting about the NDP on Sunday," International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said during question period Tuesday. "We learned they want to shut down our natural resource industry and we learned they want to say no to Canada trading in the world."

Freeland told NDP trade critic Tracey Ramsey that such a move would be damaging for Canada's middle class, including the union members she "claims to represent."

chrystia freeland
International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland receives applause during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan.25, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ramsey rose in the House of Commons to say that the trade committee was "hitting the road" next week to study the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without an impact study to guide the work.

"Liberals promised a full public consultation but now they're trying to pass of the committee's work as their own," she said, adding Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz's recent criticism calling the pact the "worst trade deal ever."

Ramsey charged the government was tossing an election pledge to conduct full public consultations on the TPP, which Freeland signed in New Zealand in February.

"We learned they want to shut down our natural resource industry and we learned they want to say no to Canada trading in the world."
— Chrystia Freeland on the NDP

Freeland said New Democrats condemned the deal without even reading it and denied Liberals were breaking any commitments to voters.

"We promised to consult and we are," she said.

Manifesto's calls for no new pipelines

Despite Freeland's suggestion to the contrary, delegates at the NDP convention last weekend passed a resolution that did not explicitly call for the shut down of Canada's energy industry.

Instead it recognized the manifesto as a "high-level statement of principles" in line with the party's values, and called for its policies to be debated by grassroots members in the lead-up to the next convention in 2018.

The resolution also left open that the polices flowing from the manifesto be "modified on their own merits and according to the needs of various communities and all parts of Canada."

Still, the controversial document does call for no new pipelines as well as a dramatic shift from fossil fuels to move Canada toward 100 per cent electricity from renewable resources within 20 years.

The manifesto calls for Canada to be weaned off fossil fuels entirely by 2050.

And, when it comes to trade, the manifesto urges an end to all deals that "that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects."

Notley, Ambrose also criticize manifesto

Freeland is not the only MP to throw a shot at New Democrats for their embrace of the radical plan.

In a debate in the House on Monday, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose told NDP finance critic Guy Caron she was "heartened" to learn that he disagreed with much of what she believes.

"After the New Democrats' convention in Edmonton and their adoption of the Leap Manifesto, I want to distance our party from them as far as we can," Ambrose said.

And it would appear Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley might feel the same.

Notley gave an impassioned speech to NDP delegates Saturday where she made the case for pipelines and resource development.

On Monday, she told reporters at the Alberta legislature that her government "repudiates" elements of the manifesto dealing with energy infrastructure.

"These ideas will never form any part of policy," Notley said. "They are naive. They are ill-informed. They are tone deaf.''

With files from The Canadian Press

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