09/11/2013 11:21 EDT

NDP Caucus Retreat: Tom Mulcair Says Liberals To Blame For Increasing Income Inequality


SASKATOON — After saying he'd start attacking the Liberal record, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair did just that Wednesday morning at his party's caucus retreat in Saskatoon, delivering a no holds barred speech painting the Grits and Tories as one and the same.

The old parties are fighting to protect their entitlements and their connected friends, Mulcair said, while Canadians are seeing their incomes drop and their debts pile up.

"Ottawa is broken and the while the Liberals simply wait for their turn at the trough, the NDP is still the only party that can and will fix it," Mulcair told his MPs.

The NDP leader took full aim at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's focus on addressing the challenges facing the middle class, saying the Liberals are to blame for increasing income inequality in Canada.

The Liberals may hope enough time has passed that Canadians forget their record, Mulcair said.

"In the past 35 years — under both Conservative and Liberal governments — income has grown for the top 20 per cent but shrunk for the other 80 per cent," Mulcair said.

"But over those same 35 years, 94 per cent of the widening of income inequality that we've experienced in Canada, has actually happened under Liberal governments, not Conservative," Mulcair said.

"That widening gap has left an entire generation of middle-class families teetering on the edge — buried under a mountain of household debt," the NDP leader said.

Mulcair said the Conservative ideology is to let people fend for themselves and not do anything to help them.

The NDP, Mulcair said, was the only party capable of providing clean, honest government that would look out for the public good.

Deputy Liberal leader Ralph Goodale told HuffPost Mulcair's numbers are inaccurate but since he didn't know where the NDP leader pulled his figures, he couldn't comment specifically. He said Mulcair's comments show he is "considerably spooked politically" and has turned to counterproductive, polarizing political fights rather than suggest any new ideas.

Goodale said the Liberals, under Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, instigated broad changes to help the middle class. He pointed to changes made to fight off a pension crisis and secure the Canada Pension Plan, the development of the child benefit and the working income tax benefit.

"Liberals were very proactive in fighting the inequalities in our society and particularly the position of the middle class," Goodale said. "That is not to say the problems were eliminated, the challenges always keep coming."


Speaking to reporters later, Mulcair said an NDP government would not tax the rich to help address the growing income gap.

"No, with regards to increasing taxes it is not in my agenda, and I am categorical about that."

Mulcair said he would raise the corporate income tax rate, such as the NDP proposed during the 2011 election.

Mulcair said his past experience as a public administrator and the NDP's record of balancing the books at the provincial level should assure Canadians that a New Democrat government could make investments in things such as universal day care.

The NDP says it will focus on making life more affordable for Canadians by tackling credit card rates and bank fees, student debt, poverty and lacking investments in First Nations education.

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