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NDP leadership contender Brian Topp arrives to address the Economic Club of Canada at a Toronto hotel on Jan. 10, 2012. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
NDP leadership contender Brian Topp arrives to address the Economic Club of Canada at a Toronto hotel on Jan. 10, 2012. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

Topp tries to spice up NDP race with call to end corporate 'gravy train' Add to ...

Leadership contender Brian Topp says it’s time for NDP candidates to stop making introductions and start talking shop on key issues.

“The race is going to start to get boring if we don’t start talking about the issues,” he said Tuesday at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto.

Mr. Topp focused on the economy and the environment in his speech, even paraphrasing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in reference to national spending.

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“If I could crib a line from Mr. Harper’s good friend, His Worship Robert Ford,” he said. “… I think it’s time to end the gravy train – the gravy train of unproductive tax giveaways to the wealthiest and most fortunate among us, people like His Worship, Rob Ford.”

Mr. Topp referenced his history as the director of research in the Saskatchewan premier’s office under the early 1990s NDP government. He said his party’s work at that time saved the province from the brink of economic disaster, citing this as evidence they could do the same on a national level.

“Prime Minister [Stephen]Harper hasn’t yet done as much damage to Canada’s public finances as his provincial cousins did in Saskatchewan, but the underlying logic of his fiscal policies are the same,” he said. “Our party begins with the premise that strong public finances are a first principle of good government.”

Touching on climate change, the former campaign director for Jack Layton said Canada has spent too much time talking about environmental reform and not enough time acting. “It’s like the college student who waits until the night before to write her term paper,” he said. “To choose to be energy-inefficient is economically foolish as well as environmentally reckless.”

After his speech, Mr. Topp reacted to the decision by a Quebec MP to cross the floor and join the Liberal Party, saying he was “very disappointed” with Lise St-Denis.

“I hope that she’s going to be true to the principles that at least she ran on in May and do what we have always called for in these circumstances and that’s for an MP who crosses the floor to go consult their electorate about it before they do it. I’d invite her to do that,” Mr. Topp said.

Later this week, the former party president plans to meet with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. In spite of his position the federal government needs to end broad-brush tax breaks for large businesses, he said he’s hopeful they’ll find some common ground.

“We’ll see,” he said. “I’m here to surprise you.”

Follow on Twitter: @KaleighRogers

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