NDP Leader Candidates Survey Questions and Answers (Niki Ashton)

In early summer 2017, the IAM sent a survey to all federal NDP leadership candidates to find out their positions on worker-related issues. 

 

We are pleased to forward you the answers from Ms. Ashton and her campaign to the survey you have sent us. We hope this reaches you well.

Q: Good jobs and fair wages are important to our members. How will you potentially as the next Prime Minister ensure Canadians have access to good jobs?

The economic situation facing workers today is the result of decades of neoliberal policies by Liberal and Conservative governments, and it requires that we take a bold and systematic approach to reverse these trends.

In my platform for Economic Justice, I have a national jobs plan to promote full-time, good-paying jobs. We need to have a vision of full employment, and focus on sustainability and long-term prosperity, not short term projects.

I support higher minimum wages, and I will also introduce a living income policy, using federal powers to ensure that household income keeps up with the cost of living across the country. I will reject unfair, job-killing trade deals, and invest in public and social ownership. Together, we will fight back against the forces that seek to depress wages and exploit workers.

Q: Many IAM members work in manufacturing and industry. It seems harder to find employers willing to support training and apprenticeship completion rates have fallen. What should a Prime Minister be doing to support new and young workers?

My campaign has developed an innovative and bold vision for a green economy and for transitioning towards a carbon free economy that includes a jobs plan for tradespeople and for young people. Green infrastructure and housing will create jobs and will help transition our economy for the future. Within this plan, we want to implement a Youth Green Job Guarantee, a variant of which was implemented with success in the European Union. It would help transition young people into the labour market and cut down on precarious work.

We also support amending the Canada Labour Code to crack down on temporary work agencies, which can exploit a loophole that frees employers from offering proper occupational health and safety protections, as well as stopping the abuse of unpaid internships.

Q: Many of our Members, particularly in BC and Alberta, work in resource-based industries (mining, forestry, oil etc.).

What is your position on: A) Environmental concerns in these industries? B) Employment concerns of workers in these industries?

There is no denying that climate change presents the greatest challenge that we have ever faced. A just, green transition means working with all partners, and bringing workers and industry to the table to ensure the reduction of carbon intensive energy projects is done fairly without impacting communities disproportionately, and while respecting Indigenous rights.

To undertake this challenge, I will create four industry-specific Green Canada Advisory Boards (GCAB) for forestry, agriculture, fishing and energy to bring all stakeholders to the table, and ensure that industry, workers and experts are working collaboratively to support a just transition to a green economy and sustainable resource development.

Workers in sunset industries will be partners in our efforts to phase out carbon intensive energy projects in a sustainable, non-exploitative way. Workers will be able to remain in their respective industries during the cleanup process, such as in the work to reclaim orphaned wells or cleanup of abandoned mines, while upskilling to growth industries that will need skilled, trained workers.

I will also implement a Youth Green Job Guarantee to help young people transition into the labour market, cutting down on precarious work. An initial program would provide applicants with a six-month period of good quality public or social employment or apprenticeship geared towards the new green economy.

It is important that we retool fabrication shops and factories to produce components for clean energy projects and other carbon pollution solutions. We need to upgrade our manufacturing capacity to rapidly transition Canada to renewable energy and to help mitigate climate change around the world.

Together we can create hundreds of thousands of jobs and invest in communities by tackling climate change. You can find my full Environmental Justice platform at nikiashton2017.ca.

Q: Concerns have been raised about labour issues like anti-scab, minimum wage, contract flipping, and airport privatization. Your views?

I support federal anti-scab legislation to support workers and their right to strike.

I support the Fight for 15 and Fairness movement and their calls for a $15 dollar minimum wage. My living income policy will use the power of the federal government to push up wages further.

Contract flipping, which forces workers to reapply for their jobs, is an entirely unethical practice used by employers to undermine the gains made by workers. I will amend the Canada Labour Code to outlaw this practice and protect successorship rights in federally regulated industries.

I am strongly opposed to privatizing airports and other public infrastructure. The NDP under my leadership will not just fight these attacks, but will build public and social ownership through nationalization.

Q: As leader; what is your position to support our union and workers in general?

I’m proud to support the labour movement and its struggles in support of working people and our communities. As a democratic socialist, I believe in building the power of workers so that we can push back together against corporate power and greed. My platform, including an economic justice and tax fairness agenda, will work to bring back power to the working-class, while distributing wealth and providing social goods like pharmacare, dental care, and free tuition. I will also fight for young workers today who are not able to join a union, and who work in highly exploitative precarious jobs. Many workers also face other forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, and homophobia and transphobia, and we need to fight against these at the same time.

This is an ambitious agenda, and I can’t do it alone. The NDP will need to work alongside unions and social movements as partners to achieve these goals.

Q: Is there anything else you would like our members know?

Our campaign is rooted in the same energy that has driven the labour movement since its inception – the quest for justice for the people, not only the rich and powerful, through mass mobilization and through system change. It is time that we have political leadership in Canada that reflects the social changes that we need to implement today to tackle inequalities. This means modernizing labour laws, but also granting basic healthcare coverage that includes pharmacare and dental care and by making sure that every Canadian has access to free post-secondary education. This is the way of the future, and if we all pull together, we can build a movement for social, economic and environmental change.


 

 

 

 

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1st Ballot for NDP Leader
Thought on Labour

“This business of petty inconvenience and indignity, of being kept waiting about, of having to do everything at other people’s convenience, is inherent in working-class life. A thousand influences constantly press a working man down into a passive role. He does not act, he is acted upon. He feels himself the slave of mysterious authority and has a firm conviction that ‘they’ will never allow him to do this, that, and the other. Once when I was hop-picking I asked the sweated pickers (they earn something under sixpence an hour) why they did not form a union. I was told immediately that ‘they’ would never allow it. Who were ‘they’? I asked. Nobody seemed to know, but evidently ‘they’ were omnipotent.” ― George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

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