Hardy talks election politics in Ottawa

The Yukon NDP is about “75 per cent ready” for a federal election if the plug is pulled on the Conservative minority government, says the…

The Yukon NDP is about “75 per cent ready” for a federal election if the plug is pulled on the Conservative minority government, says the party’s territorial leader, Todd Hardy.

Hardy just returned from the party’s leaders’ summit in Ottawa, which gathered territorial and provincial party brass from across Canada with federal leader Jack Layton.

They discussed election strategy and region-specific issues.

Layton has indicated the NDP plans to spend about $18 million on the next federal campaign.

When that will happen depends on who will pull the support from the Conservative government, said Hardy in an interview with the News.

With rumours swirling around Parliament Hill and the Liberals written off as a lame-duck opposition that turtles to the government, Hardy said it’s up to the Bloc and NDP to take a position.

“Jack has been clear he won’t support the Conservatives because Harper doesn’t represent Canadian values,” said Hardy.

Tax cuts to the wrong income brackets that have led to funding cuts affecting the working poor and whispers of possible privatization of Crown corporations means the Conservatives have to go, said Hardy.

“(Harper) can’t go as far as he wants and turn this country into the United States of America,” he added.

While no Yukon candidate for the federal election has been selected, campaign planning is well under way, said Hardy.

In 2006, Yukoners elected Liberal Larry Bagnell with 6,847 votes. NDP candidate Pam Boyde placed second with 3,366 votes and Conservative Sue Greetham and Green Party candidate Philippe LeBlond followed with 3,341 and 559 votes, respectively.

A nomination meeting is usually held within a day or two of the election call, said Hardy.

He declined to discuss possible candidates.

The discussions in Ottawa could offer a preview of what issues will be raised in the next election.

An economic slowdown in the United States and a rising dollar has affected provinces with large manufacturing sectors.

“I came back realizing how the recession — if it is a recession — how fast and hard it’s already hit Ontario and Quebec,” said Hardy.

Harper offered $1 billion to bail out one-sector communities.

The money will be divided up by province and territory, but it’s “only a drop in the bucket” compared to what’s needed, said Hardy.

“If we are going to see a slowdown in the economy, what have we done in the Yukon to deal with a boom cycle, to ensure people will be looked after?” he said.

“We haven’t done much. This is a government that believes there will always be this massive surplus for the Yukon. History has proven that wrong. The government needs a plan.”

In a breakfast meeting, Hardy discussed northern issues with Northwest Territories NDP MP Dennis Bevington and Nunavut NDP executive member Michelle Gillis.

From housing crunch to climate change and pipelines, they covered a lot of ground, said Hardy.

“We got specific about what issues the NDP in Ottawa should be raising,” he said.

The three representatives agreed to work closely on northern issues, which their federal leader knows well, said Hardy.

“There’s no other leader that’s been in the North as much as Jack — he’s familiar with all the issues,” said Hardy.