Federal NDP leadership candidates continue to trickle through central Alberta.
On Tuesday, New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian stopped in Red Deer. He is the third to do so after Niki Ashton and Charlie Angus visited earlier this year.
Prior to holding a meet and greet with voters at a local restaurant, Julian met with the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance to chat about what the federal government can do better to help people and families who are struggling.
“They have raised concerns about the increase in poverty and we’re seeing that right across the country. Having a government that does something like building affordable housing for folks, puts in place a clean energy strategy so energy workers can transition into clean energy -- central Alberta has enormous potential for wind, solar and geothermal with the capped oil wells that are here,” he said.
“I think the Alberta government has done the right thing in showing climate leadership and moving to phase down slowly the coal-generated electricity. They’re looking at 30 per cent of clean energy generation by 2030, but Alberta is doing it all on its own and it shouldn’t have to given the contributions Alberta has made over the years. Alberta should be first in line for clean energy investments.”
Julian says making that transition will create tens or even hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“We have to move away from the boom and bust economy. Clean energy is a very solid economic underpinning and in other parts of the world like Europe where they put into place the right infrastructure, the right training and the right investments, they’ve created hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Canada can do the same and it starts in Alberta,” he says.
Julian was also keen to point out that his background is what sets him apart from past NDP leaders and others leading in Ottawa.
“They [Canadians] haven’t seen much of a difference between Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau and they want to see changes. I think particularly of our younger Canadians -- they want to see a government that cares about regular people,” he says. “I come from the shop floor. I started off my career after high school working in factories. I worked in an oil refinery and I finally went back to school and became a financial administrator, but what I see in Ottawa is that it needs to be changed.”
Julian’s platform doesn’t leave out diversity and he doesn’t agree with the notion that Alberta is a step behind the rest of the country when it comes to being accepting of minorities.
“I don’t find that knocking on doors. There are elements in every province that don’t accept the remarkable diversity of our country, but my sense is the majority really do,” the 13 year MP says.
His message to Albertans, Julian concludes, is that those who run the country need to invest in families.
“I believe firmly we are missing out on opportunities to [do that]. We have massive tax breaks and a system of tax havens that is unbelievable. Some of the accounting firms like KPMG brag that Canada is the #1 country for tax havens and tax loopholes,” he says. “We need to close those for the very wealthy and large corporations so they’re paying their fair share of taxes and that allows us to make the investments -- a transition to clean energy and provide housing for everybody in this country.”
The deadline for candidates to register for the federal NDP leadership race is July 3. Voting to replace Tom Mulcair takes place over a matter of weeks in September and October.
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