Sturgeon County – Seeking the role of Member of Parliament for Westlock – St. Paul is Liberal candidate Rob Fox. Fox, who became the Liberal candidate for the riding more than a year ago, was born and raised in the Bonneyville – St. Paul area and worked 28 years in the oil industry before moving on to consulting and investing work. The candidate chose the Liberal Party because it aligns with where he has always been.
“I grew up with the Peter Lougheed Conservatives,” Fox said. “I don’t think I’ve changed. If you look at the political spectrum, especially over the last 10 years, [it] has moved right, and over the last five years dramatically right.”
Fox contends the Lougheed Conservatives were where the Liberal Party of Canada is today, a centrist party. It was a position that appealed to the candidate as a progressive or centrist person.
The Liberal candidate sees Canada as the critical issue in the spring election. “We have fundamentally changed in this country,” Fox said, adding Canada’s long-standing reputation as a centrist country respected around the world has changed to one where the country is indistinguishable from the United States in terms of its political policies. “How many times have you heard we will harmonize with the US policy; we will follow the US policy?” Fox said it is a situation that has diminished Canada’s influence on the world stage.
The candidate believes he and his party can make a difference in Canada’s direction going forward. “It’s about Canada,” fox said of the current election. “It’s about families. It’s about bringing the country and the constituency back to – are the people the most important things or are the corporations? Is it values or is it money?”
Fox said he believes the election is not merely about the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP, but rather about the direction of Canada. For Fox that direction is taking Canada back to where it has real influence in the world, where it has its own policies apart from those of the United States and where people come first.
“I think the platform they [the Liberals] brought out shows that,” Fox said. “It’s a balanced approach. It’s not extravagant.”
Fox said Conservative claims that Canada has come out of the recession well do not stand up to the scrutiny of where the country is on the world stage. “If you look at the G20, we’re 14th. If you look at the G8, we’re 6th,” Fox said. “This wonderful economic news – not according to the world. We are subpar. What is true is we came through the recession without having to bail out our banks.” Fox said the bank situation was due to regulations put in place in the 1990s and not the management of the Conservative government.
While Fox believes Canada is not doing as well as it should be on the world stage, he also believes it is not doing as well as it should at home, particularly with respect to health care.
“Harper stated publicly that defending the Canada Health Act is not his job,” Fox said. “Do you want someone with that philosophy negotiating a new health act? And that one that’s there now is rapidly ending. In 2014 we start all over.”
Fox said he believes the Conservatives are waiting until the last minute because they want the Health Act to fail, arguing the previous Health Act took four years to negotiate. “It’s got to be negotiated with the provinces right from the start,” Fox said, adding he feels there should be some rebalancing with respect to Alberta’s share of health care transfers. “Would I like to see Alberta get a little better deal? Yes. At the expense of somebody in New Brunswick having inadequate coverage? No. I believe it’s a Canada Health Act.”
Voters need to decide what’s best for them
Fox said throughout his campaign he has been asking voters to write down five things that are important to them in the election, things they believe in. “Not what I tell you to believe in. Not what other people tell you to believe in. Your core values,” Fox said. “Whatever those are; that’s between you and yourself. Then go look at who best represents those core values. If you do, I think you will see that most people are centrist people.”
Fox said he believes the Liberal Party’s platform best represents the country’s centrist values, but he leaves it to the voter to decide that. But the candidate realizes the constituency historically votes overwhelmingly conservative. Still he hopes there are a couple of factors that could be game changers in the election, including young voters and all voters turning out to the polls.
“I think the youth are getting involved, which is really critical,” Fox said, adding everything he does pushes voters to support him, but only if they believe what his party has to offer. The critical aspect is to vote. “Go out and exercise your right. Right now in North Africa there are people who are literally dying for the chance to vote. We have to go two blocks or two kilometres or 10 km down the road to do it. Surely we can do that.”