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Nash, Dewar and Ashton unveil job-creation plans ahead of NDP leadership debate

Ottawa MP Paul Dewar announces his candidacy for the NDP leadership on Oct. 2, 2011.

BLAIR GABLE/Blair Gable/Reuters

As the first in a series of NDP leadership debates approaches, three of the people vying to fill the job left vacant by the death of Jack Layton have come forward with economic visions for Canada that are heavily reliant on job creation.

Niki Ashton, an MP from northern Manitoba, unveiled on Friday what she called a 10-point plan for a more inclusive economy.

If named leader, Ms. Ashton says she would create a national jobs and growth fund that would include permanent funding for infrastructure. She also says she would, among other things, tackle the underlying causes of economic inequality, provide more affordable tuition and training, create a national child-care program and reform the income-tax system to help lower- and middle-income Canadians.

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Toronto MP Peggy Nash released her own a plan called A New Direction for Jobs and Prosperity in which she takes a hard swipe at the economic management of Stephen Harper's Conservative government.

Toronto MP Peggy Nash released a plan called A New Direction for Jobs and Prosperity on Friday in which she takes a hard swipe at the economic management of Stephen Harper's Conservative government.

"Stephen Harper's claim to be the best economic manager has been utterly refuted by the bitter experience of recent years," Ms. Nash said in a statement.

"The countries that have truly succeeded in modern global commerce haven't handed over all decision-making power to corporations. They've recognized successful development needs all stakeholders pulling in the same direction – government, business, unions, universities."

Ms. Nash says that as leader she would find ways to enhance the value that Canadians extract from our natural resource industries while reducing their environmental impacts.

She says she would also require foreign investors to make binding commitments to jobs and development, replace no-strings-attached tax breaks with incentives for innovation, leverage long-run job-creating investments in essential infrastructure, transportation, and energy projects, maximize Canadians' access to and utilization of modern telecommunications technologies, and strengthen income-security programs.

Meanwhile, Ottawa MP Paul Dewar announced his own proposals for " tackling the jobs deficit" on Friday morning.

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They include the creation of a permanent national infrastructure program, support for small and medium-sized businesses, the promotion of renewable energy industries, and reinvigorated national training programs to provide young Canadians with new opportunities.

The proposals come two days before Ms. Nash and Mr. Dewar face off against the other seven candidates for the NDP leadership square off in the first of six scheduled debates.

Until recently, it seemed the most contentious issue facing the contenders was how many debates they should hold before the contest is finally decided in March. But the candidates are gradually coming forward with policy.

Earlier this week, former party president Brian Topp released a released a paper that calls for New Democrats to renew their fight for core social democratic values and to put equality at the centre of the party's program for government. That followed his detailed set of proposals for income-tax reform which called for a tax rate of 35 per cent for people making more $250,000, reconfigured taxes on capital gains and stock options, and the elimination of tax cuts for profitable corporations.

Mr. Dewar, on the other hand, says he would crack down on off-shore tax havens. He says he will "say no to Conservative austerity plans to undermine our public services." And he rules out any increase to sales taxes.

His proposals, he says, have the backing of Mike McCracken, a prominent Canadian economist, and Eugene Kostyra, former Manitoba finance minister and senior economic advisor to former premier Gary Doer.

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In a statement to be released by Mr. Dewar's campaign on Friday, Mr. McCracken is quoted as saying the proposals "will add to direct jobs and also increase jobs among the suppliers to the various organizations undertaking increased investment. As well, the induced higher incomes of people will increase effective demand and create additional jobs throughout the economy."

All of the candidates have spent the first months of he campaign trying to line up support among notable New Democrats from across the country.

But the debate Sunday in Ottawa will give Canadians their first look at how each of them performs under pressure and where they stand on the issues. The others who will be on stage with Mr. Dewar, Ms. Nash, Ms. Ashton and Mr. Topp include MPs Thomas Mulcair, Romeo Saganash, Nathan Cullen, Robert Chisholm and Nova Scotia businessman Martin Singh.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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