Red Deer City Councillor Paul Harris is seeking the NDP nomination in the Red Deer – Mountain View riding for this coming fall’s federal election.
Harris, who has served on City council for five years, said he has been asked by people in the community as well as those in the federal and provincial government, to make the move.
“I decided that now would be the opportunity. If it’s not now, then it would be four years from now and I’m thinking about my career and if I should do that.
“This riding, I think, needs a really strong voice. We have some great things happening here. Out of the three candidates I have the most experience municipally. I have been working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for five years now and I have been on Parliament Hill working with the MPs developing policies and doing that kind of strategic thinking for Canada already. I am familiar with that work,” he said. “I also think that my experience municipally is important because most people live in municipalities – this does not negate people who live in the rural areas, they are still part of municipalities, they just have different needs.”
During a special meeting held yesterday, Red Deer City council granted Harris a leave of absence from his position of councillor until Aug. 24th, which is the NDP nomination date for the Red Deer-Mountain View riding. If Harris is successful in securing the nomination, that leave of absence will be extended through until Oct. 19th – which is election day.
Harris said his experience on City council will lend itself to the role of MP should he be elected.
“One of the most important things with my experience on council is that you are working with a number of different people with diverse opinions. We’ve got nine different people, so you might as well have nine different parties. You have to work together – you have to collaborate and you have to think through things in a bigger context,” he said. “I think that is what is missing in federal politics right now – there is too much party thinking and not enough collaboration.”
Harris said if he is successful in securing the nomination for the NDPs, he will focus on infrastructure needs in Central Alberta.
“I want to focus on social infrastructure particularly. We need to make our airport succeed – we have the Canada Winter Games coming up. Of course there are roads, bridges and sewers and all of that – we can’t forget the basics,” he said.
“The wisdom of the community is the most important and everybody’s voice needs to be heard. I will be very open to those kinds of things.”
As for issues he has heard so far from constituents, there is a variety.
“Probably what I am hearing concerns about the most are the environment, what is happening with healthcare and how can constituents can be heard. There is a lot of frustration with the current government not listening to the citizens of Canada,” he said.
Another issue Harris would like to address includes the Alberta economy.
“Alberta has been one of the economies that has driven this country. We are going through some tough times right now, so how can we diversify the economy and still maintain our position as a province that is great to be in?”