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NDP Leader Candidate Guy Caron Pitches $90-Billion ‘Workers First’ Economic Plan

Plan would also shorten the work day by an hour.

By Kyle Duggan 27 Jul 2017 | iPolitics

Kyle Duggan reports for iPolitics where this article first appeared.

NDP leadership contender Guy Caron put out a “Workers First” platform plank Wednesday that includes $90 billion in new spending priorities and a pledge to shorten the work day by an hour — and implies that he’s not afraid of deficit spending.

The announcement comes a week before the next NDP leadership debate in Victoria, B.C., and promises a range of measures aimed at dealing with precarious work, job automation and transitioning away from fossil fuels.

Caron’s plan would, among other things, update federal labour standards to “replace the eight-hour workday with a seven-hour workday without wage loss” to counter job automation and precarious work conditions.

He also pitched a “robust carbon tax” (although he doesn’t say how large it should be), suggested part of an increase to the corporate tax rate should be earmarked for job retraining and support programs, and called for an increase in the inflation target for Canada from two to four per cent.

On the spending front, Caron said he would grow the “green economy” by investing $90 billion over a decade — $32 billion for renewable energy projects, $30 billion for green energy retrofits, $18 billion for public transit and $10 billion for high-speed rail. It’s one of a number of other work-related proposals; Caron notes near the bottom that none of it will come cheap.

“In restructuring our economy, we are undertaking an enormously ambitious and essential project for the future of our country. Thus, it may be necessary to incur a deficit,” the plan states.

The NDP pledged during the 2015 election to balance the books for four years — a surprise move that has remained a source of contention in the party ever since.

The now small pool of contenders to replace Tom Mulcair as head of the NDP this October includes presumed frontrunner Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh, northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus and Manitoba MP Niki Ashton.

B.C. MP Peter Julian, who was running a campaign to move the party further to the left, dropped out of the race early this month, citing fundraising issues.

Caron has been running a policy-heavy campaign anchored in pledges for a basic income program and significant tax system changes. Wednesday’s announcement blends in a number of environmental pledges with more labour-focused promises.

Other leadership contenders have focused heavily on environment commitments in the race so far; Angus has called for a carbon budget and Singh has pledged to speed up Canada’s reduction of carbon emissions and hit a more ambitious target for 2030 than is called for under the Paris Agreement outlines — a promise Ashton recently matched.  [Tyee]

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