Tom Mulcair says the NDP will pump $105 million over three years into programs aimed at making Canada’s forestry sector more competitive.
The NDP leader made the announcement Friday during a campaign stop at a forestry college in the small town of Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier near Quebec City.
“We will make a series of crucial investments over three years to protect and create forestry jobs right across this great country of ours and secure a long-term future for our communities,” Mulcair said.
The funding promise came the morning after the French-language debate, in which Mulcair accused Conservative Leader Stephen Harper of allowing manufacturing and other vital economic sectors to languish while focusing all of his attention on the oil and gas industry.
In a line he has also used in English, Mulcair accused Harper of “putting all the eggs in one basket, and then dropping the basket.”
The $105 million would go toward modernizing manufacturing and promoting Canadian forestry products overseas, Mulcair said.
The NDP plan also aims to cut greenhouse gases emitted by the industry by investing in research and development that will explore alternatives to petroleum products.
The NDP said that based on performance of existing programs, the new money could be expected to leverage about $270 million in private sector funds.
Background material provided by the NDP says Canada’s forest industry has been hit with a number of challenges in the past few years, including declining demand for newsprint, increased global competition and invasive insects. The $58-billion-a-year industry is one of Canada’s biggest employers, generating about 230,000 direct jobs for Canadians, the NDP notes.
With a little over three weeks to go until the Oct. 19 election and with Quebec a key battleground, Harper also headed deeper into the province on Friday, visiting Rivière-du-Loup.