Saturday, May 29, 2004 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton and Cape Breton-Canso candidate Shirley Hartery go dockside in Glace Bay to meet a few residents.

Layton mistrusts feds' tar ponds promises
Incinerating waste worries federal NDP leader

By TERA CAMUS / Cape Breton Bureau

GLACE BAY - A drunken Glace Bay man was first in line to deliver a big stinky hug to Jack Layton on Friday afternoon, soon after the federal NDP leader touched down in Cape Breton to campaign for votes.

The ever-smiling Mr. Layton grimaced and stood back but kept his sense of humour as the unidentified man turned to the cameras to whoop it up under the watchful eyes of plainclothes police.

"I'm a diehard New Democrat. . . . Vote for this man!" the man shouted, shaking Mr. Layton's hand as the leader laughed.

Later the watery-eyed man, who smelled of stale beer, told this newspaper he and his buddy had been drinking all day but went to the dock to meet Mr. Layton as he walked with Cape Breton-Canso candidate Shirley Hartery.

Other, slightly more sober folks also met the leader in Glace Bay and at a ceilidh a few hours later in Sydney.

Mr. Layton said Nova Scotians shouldn't be fooled by pre-election goodies announced by Paul Martin's government, mentioning the $400-million tar ponds cleanup announcement earlier this month.

"The good news is, it's a figure that's been announced; the bad news is that it's a Liberal promise," he said. "The record of pre-election Liberal promises hasn't been good."

More troublesome, he said, is that incineration is being considered to deal with the worst of Sydney's toxic industrial waste, something he says will put people at risk.

"The process might be unravelling as we speak, as the province begins to look again at an idea that was rejected in the past," Mr. Layton said of incineration, adding that he's opposed and helped close several incinerators in his political career.

"I don't blame the community for being concerned that what they might face is the combustion of up to 50,000 tonnes of materials that have PCBs dumped into them," Mr. Layton said.

"Even the tiniest quantities of PCBs airborne can be particularly toxic according to all of the studies. That's a real concern to us.

"We want to make sure all the best approaches have been taken, that the various biological approaches that are emerging are being considered."

Mr. Layton said he's confident his party will do well in the province on June 28, noting the NDP has benefited from previous leader Alexa McDonough's 20 years work at building support.

"We put together a stunning group of candidates," he said.

At a rally, he repeated his platform address, delivered earlier this week - that it's time to invest in the community, stop tax cuts to big business and eliminate income tax for people earning less than $15,000 annually.

"It's time for some pro-action, time for some investments," he said. "It's not time for more tax cuts."