Jagmeet Singh promised opportunities for energy workers in a diversified economy during a visit to Calgary on Saturday.
“We know that workers in the energy sector are struggling right now and they need help. We are here to help them,” Singh said.
The federal NDP leader made the remarks when he started a brief tour of Alberta at a pancake brunch in the East Village before meeting with Calgary and the District Labor Council.
He also stopped by Calgary’s Red FM radio studio for an interview in Punjabi, where he talked about Gurinder Singh Gill’s candidacy for the NDP in Calgary-Skyview. He travels to Edmonton on Sunday.
Singh said he was heard from energy workers worried about the direction global markets are going and young people worried about climate change, especially given the summer forest fires and floods.
“A lot of people I know in Alberta are worried about spreading the economy and making sure we have good jobs today and tomorrow,” Singh said. “People are worried about having your eggs in a basket.”
“This is an opportunity to build good jobs,” he added, listing opportunities that could come from investing in infrastructure, retrofitting buildings, renovating oil wells and converting oil wells into geothermal energy.
Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole have visited Calgary in recent weeks, prompting talk of an upcoming election call.
Singh said he is ready for an election if Trudeau chooses to call one, but said his preference would be to continue working to help voters.
He added that he plans to continue speaking out for universal pharmaceutical care and dentistry and took the opportunity to take a push over Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s cuts to health care. Singh has not scheduled a meeting with Kenney while in the province.
The NDP currently has only one seat in Alberta, Edmonton Strathcona. But Singh said he believes his party’s support for workers leaves him well ready to win voters in the province.
The NDP leader also took the opportunity to address several attacks on Muslim and Sikh women in Alberta in recent months, including an attack on an Alberta minister’s daughter.
“It’s really awful what we see in Alberta, but I do not want people to think it’s just an Alberta problem,” he said.
“We’re seeing an increase in Islamophobia across the country, it’s really heartbreaking, and it’s kind of reminiscent that hate is not something that is isolated. Hate is like a fire. When people are targeted because of their religion, we know “that it can spread to people based on their gender, their sexuality, their race.”
Singh said all Canadians have a collective responsibility to stand up to hatred.