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Interview with David Graham, LPC nomination contestant Laurentides-Labelle

I had the chance over the weekend to chat with David Graham, nomination contestant for Laurentides-Labelle. I’ve talked about David before – at this blogpost back in January – but this post today is an interview with David – the same as I’ve been doing with other LPC or LPCO candidates this summer, where I ask them five questions. David will be my first interview with someone running outside the province of Ontario.

1) For those who haven’t visited your website yet, can you tell our readers why you’ve decided to run for the nomination?

Because we can do better. We have had a generation of disengaged, ineffectual representation. The time for MPs whose ambition is to be MP rather than to build their community has come to an end. Years of work in politics have shown me a lot of what needs to be done and how to do it. It is not that I want to be a Member of Parliament, it is that I believe being a Member of Parliament is the best way to help my community, my province, and my country prepare all of us for a future which will not take care of itself.

2) If a Justin Trudeau government is elected (regardless of majority or minority), what issues would you champion in that new government?

When Justin Trudeau is Prime Minister, a lot of people will have a lot of priorities. Not all of them will mesh, and some will be outright contradictory. For me, Justin’s most significant challenge will be building a concise roadmap to undoing a decade of damage done to our democracy by Stephen Harper. There are numerous issues that are important. Broadband Internet is still difficult and expensive to get. Mail delivery is slowly being squeezed out of existence. Career opportunities are sparse. What I want to bring to the table are priorities that will help our community, and the country as a whole, have the opportunities needed for a strong and sustainable future.

3) There is a saying that “all politics is local”. At present, do you feel there are any local issues in Laurentides–Labelle that may come into play during the election campaign, or is it going to be based on national issues only?

Indeed all politics is local. In our riding of Laurentides–Labelle, the MPs have been elected on a wave for year after year, election after election. This is not because of a desire to vote as a wave, it is largely because of a lack of engagement by the candidates of their communities. It can take more than one election to win a seat, and it takes a lot more than putting your name on the ballot to become a Member of Parliament. That said, many of Laurentides–Labelle’s issues are national issues. As with many rural areas, our youth finish school and leave to find better opportunities. Many never return. Career opportunities in the Laurentians are not numerous, focused largely on the tourism industry in the south and forestry further north. The major industries in the riding are in somewhat volatile markets. If the tourists stop coming, employment becomes very hard to get. Employment Insurance is premised on the existence of new work being available, but that is not always the case, and many of our issues are related to the conflict between the two major facets of our economy. For example, the second-highest mountain in the Laurentians is Mount Kaaikop, which is the subject of a bitter and long-running legal fight between the desire to keep it as a nature reserve and one of the most scenic public lands in the region, against efforts to extract the highly valuable wood that has been allowed to grow on it.

Another issue that is gaining strength in the riding is an effort to give greater control over waterways to municipal governments, the only policy being pushed by the current MP, through the use of an ineffective and non-binding parliamentary motion (M-441) that was in any case defeated. The issue of who controls access to largely recreational lakes and what people can do on them is a contentious one and it will no doubt be an important local issue.

Laurentides–Labelle is a microcosm of rural issues across the country and is well-placed to be a national leader on the issues facing rural and small-town Canada. Many of our issues are, at their core, national issues. It will take someone with a strong knowledge of both local issues and an ability to maneuver them through the national processes to bring our region to the position of leadership I believe it can achieve to start making real changes that will benefit us all.

4) There are some who say once an MP is elected, the constituency’s wishes or concerns sometimes get ignored. Is there anything specific you would do to keep in touch with the riding, and related to that, how do you feel you can best represent the riding in Ottawa?

The most important thing any MP must remember is that their job is to represent their community in Ottawa, not represent Ottawa in their community. Many have this backwards. Laurentides–Labelle is made up of three MRCs comprising 43 municipalities over an area more than twice as large as the entirety of the Greater Toronto Area. In fact the riding is only slightly smaller than all of Israel. In our riding there are a lot of interests, some of them competing. What is important as an MP for a place like ours is to be available to all the communities all the time. It is the role of an MP to gather up ideas and objectives from the riding and bring them to Ottawa to share them with those representatives of other ridings and to work together to pursue them. We can work best together. We can accomplish more as a group than all of us can as individuals. That is how I intend to operate.

5) There are several Liberals vying for the Liberal nomination in Laurentides–Labelle. First, what would you say to folks in the riding who’ve never been members of a political party party before as to why they should pay 10$ to get a membership and support you? The second part of that question is: What would you say to those Liberal delegates who are undecided or perhaps to other supporters of other candidates (in a run-off ballot) about why they should support you to be the official candidate?

Let me give you the same answer to both parts of the question. I am inviting people to get involved. I have seen how the leading ridings in this country work and why they work and there is no reason ours cannot be a leader. I have served on the boards of directors of no fewer than six community organisations and volunteer groups ranging in size from small-town heritage groups to international charities and I have spent more than five years working directly for Members of Parliament, most of that time on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Those experiences have shown me that we need to roll up our sleeves to work together to do better. I am asking, at a minimum, for each of you to become a member of the party and support my vision for our community. I am inviting you to work together because together we can do better.

If you want to know more about what I am about and how I plan to approach the challenges we face, please visit my website or my facebook page


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