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NDP leader Tom Mulcair plants Senate abolition seeds during Duncan garden tour
Opposition leader Tom Mulcair's dapper, navy-blue suit and red silk tie were too formal for Friday's fast tour of food gardens in Duncan's Kinsmen Park.
Still, the federal NDP chief, and wife Catherine, were all ears about Cowichan Green Community's Kin Park Youth Urban Farm where Mulcair unearthed details about his party's coast-to-coast tour about abolishing Canada's scandal-ridden Senate.
"One (senator) was nice enough to retire," Mulcair said of last week's departure of veteran senator Mac Harb who's repaid about $232,000 in inappropriate living and travel expense claims.
"That's one down, and 99 to go."
Mulcair, 58, was clearly angry about a string of Senate expense scandals. Those have also snared members Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy, and Patrick Brazeau with expense or tax infractions — while reminding Canadians about the Senate's useless role, he explained.
"The problem is something the NDP's talked about for more than 50 years," Mulcair said of the patronage-packed Senate costing Canadians some $100 million a year, with little or no bang for their taxpayer buck.
"It's just a place to put your old friends," lawyer Mulcair said. "The $100 million we're spending on the Senate could be put to better use. It's pure waste. It's a relic from the past."
That's why he's urging folks to sign the NDP's petition aimed at sinking the Senate in the Oct. 19, 2015 federal election.
"Tens of thousands are signing our petition," the Outremont, Quebec MP said, hoping for Supreme Court directions to dissolve the Senate.
The feds have no legal mechanism to fire foul senators, Cowichan's NDP MP Jean Crowder explained, noting they can be sacked by criminal indictment and other means.
"I'd get rid of all of them," stated Mulcair.
But he had kinder words for CGC's work that's transformed the former dope-plagued park into an oasis of community gardens in the past seven or so years.
"This is amazing. There's obviously a lot of respect for what you're doing," the father of two sons told CGC boss Judy Stafford and her workers.
"You're doing something that's connecting to youths. This is a fabulous model. So many other parks could do this. You're thinking long term.
"I wish I had more time to do things like this," the green-thumb hopeful told Crowder. "These are real things."
Stafford and her workers led the Mulcairs past a crop mandala and other garden beds, soil-composting places, and a solar-panelled building, to a greenhouse growing tomatoes and hot peppers.
Cold cash — totalling some $500,000 across three years — from Ottawa for CGC's planned Food Rebels project was Stafford's hope after meeting the man who might be the next prime minister.
"It's farming over drugs," she told Mulcair of ways to help teens grow and harvest grub, while burying addictions.
"There's such a need for youths (programs) in this community."
The Rebels project would reach teens before they get into dope and other illegal activities.
Stafford expects word about CGC's funding application by December — and would welcome a push from Mulcair.
"I was pleasantly surprised Tom Mulcair said he'd look into it."
The NDP's environment critic, MP Megan Leslie, is expected to visit Cowichan on Oct. 4 to address various ecological problems.