One of the people hoping to win the Federal Liberal leadership nomination made a stop at UBCO on Tuesday to speak to a group of students including members of the Young Liberals of Canada.
George Takach is one of nine official candidates still in the running and will be spending the next few days in British Columbia, hoping to sign up new members and change old ideals.
“We hope to sign up hundreds of thousands of people who are not necessarily members of the Liberal Party,” says Takach, as he explains the new voter rules of one supporter equaling one vote.
“I feel very strongly that for the Liberal party to be successful in 2015 and to remove the toxic Harper government, we have to engage on the economy. As a Liberal party, we have to talk about jobs, and then we’ve got to talk about jobs and then let’s talk about jobs some more.”
He emphasized the importance of youth unemployment and underemployment and believes students may be eager to hear what a Liberal government would be willing to do about the situation.
Takach also stated his position on the west, calling it “hugely important to me and to the Liberal Party,” before mentioning the many times he has already been out to Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary and Kelowna.
“Understanding the issues that are relative to Kelowna, understanding the issues that are relevant to BC – the economy here is somewhat different than even Calgary obviously – but the first thing is showing respect to westerners and spending some time here. (BC) is our window to Asia, and Asia has got to be huge to Canada over the next 30, 40, 50 years,” Takach says.
“The Harper government has been able to sign absolutely zero free trade agreements. It’s been keystone cops. (Harper) started off our China relationship very poorly, he’s not managed to sign anymore free trade agreements so again coming back to the economy, the first thing I would do is bring some competence and BC will benefit from that.”
Takach likened the political atmosphere in Canada to a car stuck changing gears, calling Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s focus on national resources as first gear.
“If we can make natural resources development cleaner and greener, that’s our second gear. Third is some sophisticated manufacturing… and fourth, the real potential is knowledge based industries.”
When asked about the current climate of the Provincial Liberal party, Takach spoke of his hope to see a resolution of the dynamic between the environment and the economy – how Harper has told people there can only be economic growth with no protection of the environment and that demonizes the environmental movement.
“Having economic growth and protecting the environment at the same time, that’s the Liberal message,” he says.
“I’ve got 30 years of real life experience in the business sector, but I’ve also worked for hospitals, (and) I’ve worked for universities – helping them on their innovation agendas. What I’m proposing nationally, I’ve actually done in the real world. But at the same time on the social policies – my parents were penniless refugees to this country. They came without English and without French, so when you talk to me about public healthcare and public education, I lived those social safety nets. I know what its like for the government to help you to that first rung on the ladder.”
Takach says all those reasons make him a unique combination amongst the other candidates vying for the Federal Liberal nomination.
The first leadership debate will take place in Vancouver on Jan. 20. Voting begins on April 6, and final results will be announced on April 14.