Paul Dewar, MP for Ottawa Centre, announced his candidacy for the leadership of the NDP at the Lord Elgin Hotel on Sunday, Oct 2.
Addressing a crowded room of supporters, Dewar said the NDP’s rise to become the Official Opposition and the death of Jack Layton were the happiest and saddest of times in the last five months.
He then announced his candidacy with a speech that reaffirms his commitment to building a better Canada and offering an alternative to Stephen Harper.
“This leadership campaign is our chance to build on our social democratic principles,” he said. “This is our opportunity to work together with Canadians on the challenges we face together to build a brighter economic future for working people and their families.”
Dewar characterized the NDP’s goals as wanting Canada to be seen as a leader in combating climate change, creating educational opportunities rather than debt for youth, achieving reconciliation and respect with First Nations communities, strengthening healthcare, improving access to prescription drugs and to quality home care, and creating jobs in a greener economy.
A former teacher and aid worker, Dewar was first elected to the House of Commons in 2006.
“I got involved in politics to make a difference in my community and my country. I took the road from aid worker in Central America to constituency worker in Central Ottawa to public school teacher to union vice-president — these are my roots, helping people to build a better life for themselves and their children.”
Dewar said his campaign will focus on connecting with people, members of the party as well as non-members, across the country and offering people a vision of Canada under the NDP.
“I think I have the experience and the ability to unite people,” he said.
Until his announcement, Dewar was the government’s foreign affairs critic. In his five years in Parliament, he has fought against the war in Afghanistan, pushed for affordable drugs in Africa, advanced human rights and secured recognition of rape as a weapon of war.
Dewar faces tough competition in the leadership race — Brian Topp is seen as the lead candidate — but he is optimistic about his chances.
“This campaign is going to be about growing a party, to make sure that we talk to as many New Democrats and Canadians as possible to talk about what the next stage is for us,” says Dewar. “The next stage is showing Canadians that we have a solid social democratic alternative to the Harper conservatives.”