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Peggy Nash nets NDP's 'top endorsement' as Layton's finance critic

Largely overlooked so far, NDP leadership hopeful Peggy Nash goes deep in a wide-ranging VO exclusive interview.

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Read more from the Vancouver Observer's exclusive interview:

Nash on housing:

 I think it was a terrible mistake under the Liberals that they abandoned the national housing strategy. We have a situation, for example (...), the situation in Attawapaskat – the First Nations reserve where people are living in completely inhumane conditions – and I know they're not the only community in that situation.

Plus you have many people who live in urban settings who are either paying way too much of their income, and/or they're living in grossly substandard accommodations. In a northern country, we need to make sure everybody's adequately housed – and that would go such a long way to taking people out of poverty, if their housing needs were taken care of. 

Nash on free trade:

We're a trading nation – we should be doing what we can, obviously, to promote trade with other countries, but it's gotta be fair. It's gotta be based on all parties getting a decent deal out of it, and it can't be subsidized on environmental degradation or human rights abuses. 

Trade agreements – like any agreement – are not a force of nature. They are negotiated by people. And I think it's fair, after a period of time, that there be a review so that agreements can be modernized so they can be in the best interests of their citizens.

If somebody had said even in a year ago that Europe would be reviewing whether or not there's going to be a Euro – these are not forces of nature. I'm not campaigning to open up trade agreements, but it is an important approach that when Canada's bargaining trade agreements, that we get agreements in the interests of our country.


Nash on Indigenous peoples:

We have to approach negotiations on a nation-to-nation basis. We have to respect the nationhood of our Aboriginal peoples, and we can't engage in a way that perpetuates a colonial approach to Aboriginal people. We have to approach discussions, negotiations, from a position of respect and equality. I think that, from the start, makes a big difference, but I don't think it's up to government in Ottawa to figure out what all the answers are. First Nations people know very well what a lot of the solutions are.

Nash on Quebec:

For the first time – certainly in my lifetime – we have the opportunity for progressives in Quebec and progressives across Canada working together to build a better country. The next leader has to carry on with Jack's work to be somebody à l'écoute (in touch with), listening to Quebeckers – but who also understands that fundamentally, what most Quebeckers want is what Canadians want.

They want decent jobs, they want their kids to expect to have at least as good a standard of living as their parents, they want to be able to retire in security.

I hope that we don't need a new referendum because Quebeckers feel that their aspirations – their economic, social and environmental aspirations, and their aspirations around respect for Quebec history, culture, language – are respected. And I believe that's what we need to work for. You know, I believe in Quebec's right to self-determination, and I support that. But I'm going to do absolutely everything in my power to work with Quebeckers and with people in the rest of Canada to show how we are all better off when we work together.

Nash on women in government & electoral reform:

I've done a lot of women's leadership training, I've done a lot to overcome the barriers to getting involved. On our part, (the NDP does) a better job – we've got 40 per cent women – because in our constitution we have a requirement that we have to have equity representation in nomination meetings. If we hadn't had that, I might not have had the opportunity to run when I first ran, when Jack recruited me, because there was another person who had been working in the riding but they didn't have an equity candidate.

I also think that an important element is proportional representation.  The first-past-the-post system in a complex federation like Canada – a multi-party democracy – is better served by some form of proportional representation. We'd get a better balance of diversity in that kind of electoral system.

Nash on merger or cooperation with the Liberal Party of Canada:

I'll work with anyone in order to get things done. I've demonstrated that in my role as a parliamentarian and my role as a negotiator. But I do not support an outright merger, because I believe our parties are fundamentally different. We have fundamentally different principles.

You know, there are such differences between the NDP and the Liberal Party. It was under the Liberals we had the deepest social spending cuts we've had in the history of our country, including abolishing the national housing strategy, abolishing the national minimum wage, big cuts to employment insurance. 

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