About 20 people joined Peter Julian for breakfast, maybe lunch, at Breezy Corners in Downtown Guelph today. Julian follows Charlie Angus and Niki Ashton as the third leadership candidate for the NDP to make a campaign stop in Guelph, and he made a pitch to the city's strong activist spirit to lend him their support for a grassroots-driven party that hearkens back to the New Democrats own origins.
Julian worked the room for about half-an-hour before he spoke, outlining his background, political experience, policy ideas and where he wants to take the NDP if he should win the leadership contest. Like many of his colleagues, Julian wants to trounce cynicism and make people remember that all good ideas in Canada, universal healthcare for example, come from the orange team.
“Sometimes we were laughed at, but the thing is every single time we were right," he said. Julian added that he thinks the party is still right, particularly on economic issues like trade, which he said should be looked at through the "fundamental values of fairness and human rights," and "shift the debate to the left as opposed to the right."
And taking things back to the left was very much on Julian's mind. Like his other colleagues have talked about while in town, he feels that the party moved too close to the centre and tried to use too many buzz words like "middle class" in the last election. “Our work in caucus has to be supported by our activists across the country," he explained adding that the next campaign has to bring together various activists and social movements under the NDP to "make sure that nothing we do is in isolation.”
On the issues, Julian says that “climate change is undeniable,” and that he's opposed to all pipeline projects "on principal." He wants to implement a fair tax system, eliminate tuition fees, reinforce pensions for precarious workers, move to $15 minimum wage, initiate pharmacare and basic dental plan, and create an emergency housing plan to get people off the street. Julian also wants to rally municipalities, police services, judicial, health and education ministries to enact every recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Julian also took questions from the supporters and the curious.
BASIC GUARANTEED INCOME:
He's in favour of the idea, but Julian says that he has yet to see a model that works well enough to make it a reality. He also doesn't want to see implementing a basic income come at the cost of other social programs.
Guelph's pet issue. Julian said that if he becomes prime minister he will pledge to enact electoral reform, which will no longer be purely theoretical if the coalition NDP/Green government in British Columbia are able to effect it there. "It will no longer be this foreign theoretical concept, but this very practical thing to show how elections will work in this country."
“We haven’t really had a lot of discussion in the debates quite frankly, and I'm disappointed in that,” Julian admitted. In any case, he stands firmly against military intervention, that Canada should speak out against violence in all its forms, and that our country has a role in creating a lasting peace before conflict breaks out.
ON ANDREW SCHEER
Julian said of the new Conservative leader is "a little bit of a gift for us, he’s not a gift for the country."
PIPELINES AND ALBERTA AND BC GOVERNMENTS
As stated above, Julian is against pipelines, but rather than focus on the things that divide the two governing, provincial parties, Julian says that Ottawa should be looking at the end goal: building more green energy, helping the Albert government to convert old coal fire plants, and turn capped oil wells into geothermal energy sources. As for pipeline peace, "British Columbiers will stand in front of bulldozers to stop that pipeline," said the New Westminster—Burnaby MP.
You'll be able to listen to an interview with Peter Julian on this coming Thursday's episode of Open Sources Guelph.