Race on to become Liberal candidate for Macleod byelection
Politics: Okotoks resident first to announce campaign
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 06:00 am
The race to become the Liberal Party of Canada’s candidate in the upcoming Macleod byelection is underway.
Okotoks resident Dustin Fuller is the first to announce his candidacy in the spring byelection for the Macleod constituency. No date has been set yet for the Liberal nomination meeting and a byelection must be called by May 17.
Fuller, who has lived in Okotoks since 1995, said he wants to ensure the voices of Macleod residents are heard in Ottawa.
He said he believes everyone deserves a fair chance to achieve their dreams and the Liberal Party’s values align with his own beliefs.
“I believe in individual freedoms and rights and people deserve to have those protected and ensured, always,” said Fuller. “I believe in equality of opportunity, where everybody should be able to pursue their dreams and have that done on a equal footing. Having an equal footing means that you have health care and you have post-secondary available to people and you have a healthy, functioning prosperous economy.”
The Holy Trinity Academy graduate’s interest in politics started at an early age, something he said his grandfather encouraged. Fuller was student union president at the University of Lethbridge. He then went on to work for Elections Canada as a polling outreach worker and then went on to work political campaigns. He was campaign manager for former Lethbridge Liberal candidate Michael Cormican in 2011 and he was VP of fundraising for the Macleod Liberal EDA.
Fuller’s not daunted by the Liberal Party’s previous record in the Macleod riding.
In fact, he believes the party’s fortunes are turning in the traditional Conservative heartland of western Canada.
Fuller points to the recent byelection in Brandon-Souris in Manitoba, as evidence the party can, and is, making inroads. In the 2011 general election the Liberals received 1,898 votes in a fourth-place showing in Macleod and 1,882 votes in a fourth-place showing in Brandon-Souris. In the recent Manitoba byelection, the Liberal share of the vote jumped from 5.3 per cent in 2011 to 42.7 per cent, and the Conservative candidate narrowly won.
Fuller said the Party hasn’t paid much attention to the Macleod riding in the past, and this is changing as Trudeau and other leading Liberal MPs are spending more time in Alberta.
“I think that the Liberal Party has been a party that, in the past and under former leaders never really, I don’t know how much of an emphasis they gave on western Canada,” he said.
Trudeau has been to the foothills area twice in the last year, once after last year’s floods and visiting Ottawa a second time in January. Former Liberal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale was in Okotoks last week.
Fuller said he is concerned about the emergence of a new, nasty style of politics under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He said the Conservative governments’ ‘with us, or against us’ approach won’t help solve the problems facing Canadians.
“It doesn’t seem to be doing anyone any favours and it only seems to be serving the political party in power,” he said. “There needs to be more open dialogue and actually listening to people and not following an ideology so strictly.”
Alternatively, Fuller said Trudeau is bringing a new wave of fresh ideas and a less partisan approach to Ottawa.
“He’s more open to listening to the people and getting what the policy platforms should be from them, instead of saying ‘this is how it’s gonna be,’” he said. “And it seems, unfortunately under [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper, it seems that’s how the government is run. Whatever the PMO thinks is best for the country, they just dictate it.”
Fuller said he is concerned about the RCMP seizure of guns from High River homes after last year’s flood.
The issue became one of the main issues in the recent Conservative Party nomination race for Macleod, with candidates calling for an inquiry into the seizures.
Fuller said he views the seizures as an infringement of people’s property rights and he agrees with the need for an inquiry.
“The RCMP, without any due process or fairness or justice, went into people’s homes and confiscated their property,” he said.