Newbie in the federal election is Liberal Party candidate Jeff Rock, who decided to run a year and a half ago.
He was inspired by writer Parker Palmer, who advocates that elected officials should be honest and work to benefit the voters. Rock, who is also a minister, feels he would make an ideal candidate for the Red Deer-Lacombe riding. “As we get closer and closer to the election, I’m hearing from more and more people that they’re willing and ready for a change.”
Being a reverend is not something Rock sees as an issue if he were to be elected. He said running for office or training to be a minister is a calling and the goal is represent the community. He has made a clear separation with his work as a minister during the campaign.
With the changes to the electoral district now including the north end of Red Deer and Sylvan Lake, as well as encompassing Blackfalds, Lacombe and Maskwacis, Rock said he feels there is a balanced number of urban and rural constituents. “To me,it is what Canada is.”
When asked about working with the First Nations communities, Rock said he wants to respect the sovereign territory of FirstNations and he enjoys working with community members. “I’ve been on the Truth and Reconciliation local organizing committee here in Red Deer.”
“I really look forward to having nation to nation dialogue,” said Rock.
He suggests a proper dialogue between the federal government and First Nations in Canada has not occurred in the last 10years. “I think it would be a mistake to discount the indigenous community; not just for political reasons, but for ethical reasons too,” he added.
With the economy struggling, due to an oversupply of oil from OPEC, Rock says the Liberal Party has developed a plan to ensure people can get back to work. He added that unemployment rates are high in central Alberta. “People are really worried right now.”
Rock added there can be disagreements over nature with environmental activists fighting oil companies. He said both groups want to see Canada do well and suggests they need to work together to find a common solution.
Issues of climate change are at the forefront of discussion for many groups and Rock suggests the energy sector is vital toCanada’s growth but renewable energy can be included in the discussion. “To demonize the oil and gas industry is, to my mind, completely inappropriate.”
He added that climate change is a concern and should not be discounted.
For the agricultural sector, Rock said he had seen concern from farmers over the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board.
“I think they (farmers) are outright cheesed off,” said Rock, referring to the Friends of the CWB, a group advocating the restoration of the board.
Rock says other areas of concern are the Trans-Pacific Partnership and how it will affect local farm producers. One worryRock hears is there will be greater competition for farm products and local producers may have to drop their rates.
Senior and mental healthcare is an important area for Rock and he wants to see the retirement age stay at 65. Rock says theLiberal Party proposes enhancing the Canadian Pension Plan that would see better living for retired seniors.
“We have vehemently said that we will not cancel seniors’ income splitting,” he added.
One of the reasons Rock became a minister was being able to to work with seniors. He added he is delighted to see an increased awareness of mental health issues. “That’s forcing governments to address some of the shortages in mental healthcare.”
“There’s no question that addictions and mental health issues lead to homelessness,” said Rock. “I believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
He added that mental health issues affect Canadians of all walks of life.
Rock suggests Canadian politics has become increasingly polarized over the years and hopes people will realize that anyone running for election is more of a community builder and he feels people should work together. He says he tries to respond to every question or query that comes his way.
“I don’t think you win elections, I think you earn the right to represent the people,” said Rock.