By Darren Lum
Published Aug. 8 2017
Area residents were given an opportunity to meet NDP federal leadership candidate MP Guy Caron and ask questions about his ideas for running the country during his recent trip to Haliburton late last month.
Caron came alone meeting with a small group of people at Baked and Battered.
He said he has experience with the student movement the labour movement and in building bridges between Quebec progressives and the rest of the country.
“I’m the candidate that can not only unite the party but also Canadians in the same direction” he said.
He knows the realities of rural and urban Canada because he has lived in both areas such as Ottawa and Rimouski a town of less than 50000 people and more than 300 kilometres from Quebec he said.
Caron said he is familiar with Haliburton County because his wife’s aunt has a cottage in Dorset.
He has known Mike Perry the NDP candidate in the 2015 federal election for 15 years.
The 49-year-old father of two was elected to the House of Commons in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. He represents the electoral district of Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basque which is in eastern Quebec. Caron has a master’s degree in economics from the University of Ottawa and calls himself a progressive economist. He has served as the critic for finance industry and natural resources.
Being from a small centre that doesn’t get the attention as neighbouring Quebec City he knows first hand how communities feel ignored by the government he said.
He is fully aware that voters in ridings such as Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock is a historically conservative riding but said it should not be ignored by progressive candidates.
“We should not abandon rural areas. We should not condemn them for being non-competitive ridings the way we have done in the past. If we do that we lose before we have started and we need to ensure that these areas are as important to us the NDP as the urban ridings” he said.
He said rural voters need to be treated with respect and policies need to address their needs.
“You show them basically that the policies we are promoting that the vision that we are promoting is the vision that will help them get ahead. The Liberals and Conservatives are leading us [to a] wall.
Then they will be receptive to your message. You need to ensure that you’re sending the message that they are important to you and by giving up on them before an election that’s not the right message to send” he said.
To help the next generation he said it’s time that voters move away from the two parties that have governed the country since its inception.
“Let’s face it. We are in a position where the next generation – my kids who are eight and five – will be worse than ourselves. We’ve never seen that before. That’s not because of the NDP. It’s because of successive Liberal and Conservative governments and the policies they’ve adopted the last 30 years. It’s time to change and people will see that” he said.
His main concerns are for the climate and economic equality.
The first proposal for equality is to implement basic annual income for Canadians. This could be put in place in the first budget of an NDP government. Among his other ideas is tax reform which he said is a short- to long-term goal and needs to be on the agenda for greater fairness so everyone pays a fair share. The current system is “obsolete” and dates back to the mid-20th century he said. The commitments to First Nations and Indigenous People need to be upheld. The economy he said needs to transition to renewable resources from finite resources such as fossil fuels. This transition includes making sure employees whose jobs are contingent on the fossil fuels are not left behind by giving them training and addressing the automation of labour.
Back in 2003 he worked on Jack Layton’s leadership campaign and hopes to pursue “Jack’s legacy.”
“Jack’s legacy was to say ‘No more. We’ll be proposing things and seek government to form government and to implement [laws]. This is where we need to go. We need to ensure that we are competitive. That every single election we aim to form a government” he said.
He stayed a little more than hour sitting with interested residents before he left to go to Lindsay to meet with more potential voters.