NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus, above, speaks during a campaign stop at the MGM Restaurant in Nanaimo on Friday. NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin

NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus focuses on economy during Nanaimo stop

Candidate expresses concerns about automation and workers rights.

Canada, a nation rich with natural resources, is witnessing increasing student debt and economic uncertainty thanks to years of ineffective government decisions, according to a federal NDP leadership candidate.

Charlie Angus, who entered the race earlier this year, expressed concerns during a campaign stop in Nanaimo Friday.

“We have the most incredible resources, we have the most incredible communities, we have gifts that we take for granted here that other nations dream of and we have allowed it to be pillaged,” he said.

Angus, is hoping to beat out Nikki Ashton Peter Julian, Guy Caron for the leadership nomination. During his speech, Angus cited examples of B.C. Ferries vessels being built in Germany and exporting raw logs to China as decisions that have hurt the middle class. He also stressed the importance of environmental and economic justice as well as ensuring First Nations communities are finally given a chance to succeed.

“The days when communities are left on the sidelines … and children can’t hope or they do not have an ability to participate in the incredible wealth of their land is over,” he said.

Angus said the Liberals and the Conservatives have been pushing a fictional version of the economic security in Canada, but that the reality is far different.

“This generation of workers are facing incredible insecurity and it is not just the millennials. This is now moving to people in their 40s and 50s who are being downsized and told to come back as freelancers,” he said. “There is something fundamentally wrong with our economy if young people are told to take $60,000 worth of debt, but they can’t live in the communities that they love and they’re ending up working on endless contract work with no pension.”

Angus told the News Bulletin he wants his party to become one that will fight like “hell” for people who have been left behind.

“I know people who are struggling to get by and I am fearless in taking that on. We are going to fix things for ordinary people. We are going to make our economy fair and we are going to deal with that environmental crisis,” he said. “We’re not going to mess around with this.”

Angus also wants to see federal and provincial labour laws better protect employees, particularly those who are freelancers or contract workers. He said he is concerned about the future of automation and how many jobs could be lost as a result of it, adding too many Vancouver Island jobs have already been shipped overseas.

“As a government, we are going to have to take this on very seriously,” he said. “We’re going to have to look at the tax code to make sure that we are protecting jobs rather than just allowing people to be outsourced by a machine.”

nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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