The Liberal Party of Canada has expanded their list of candidates, selecting Garry Parenteau as the nominee for the Lakeland riding in the upcoming federal election.
“Everybody has the right to vote for a candidate and nobody else put their foot forward so I said I was going to do it,” said Parenteau. “I was kind of disappointed in the previous election, the provincial election, there was no liberal candidate in this area.”
The new local candidate is one of the most recent additions to the Liberal team, being nominated on Aug. 26.
A resident of the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement, Parenteau has been in the Lakeland for about 40 years and currently serves as the settlement's oil and gas director. Parenteau brings with him a vast knowledge of politics, finance and aboriginal affairs.
From 2000 to 2003, he served as the vice president of finance for the Liberal Part of Canada's Aboriginal People's Commission. Following that, he spent six years as the representative of the Métis Settlements General Council to the federal government as they worked to establish a liaison office in Ottawa. Parenteau has also served as the chairperson of the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement and the vice president of the Métis Settlements General Council.
With the federal Liberals having set out their five main platforms, Parenteau said the issues we're seeing in this constituency are similar to the focuses of the entire party including growth for the middle class, economy and the environment and having a fair and open government.
“We have to make sure the environment is protected, looking at preserving what we have. The Lakeland region, it speaks for itself when we look at protecting fresh water.”
Having experience in the oil and gas industry, Parenteau sees no reason why there can't be a working balance between protecting the environment and bringing out the resource.
“We know that we have oil and gas in our region that is, basically, the lighter oil that we can extract by drilling. We can develop those lands and continue producing those minerals in a safe manner, along with protecting the environment at the same time,” explained Parenteau.
He added, “It's not a big issue, it's just being a little more aggressive when it comes to policies and procedures.”
As far as pipelines go, the local Liberal candidate said his party is in agreement with the Keystone pipeline and understands the need for the export market.
“Of course, the Energy East issue with the pipeline running through the mountains first and foremost would be the site itself, where it hits the Pacific right into the ocean. The inlet there is quite sensitive so that would require more discussions and our leader recognizes that.”
Parenteau cited ensuring there are better services for Canada's veterans, having a government that's fair and easy to access with politicians having an open door policy, and support for First Nations people as being other focal points of his campaign.
While his election run is still in the early stages, the MP hopeful is working on putting together a team and getting plans in place for his campaign. Being that the Lakeland is a vast riding, Parenteau stated that it's important for candidates to take into consideration the concerns of all constituents.
“It's a large riding but this is not the first, other people have had to represent a large riding. It's a matter of getting out and making yourself visible, making yourself accessible to every voter.”
Parenteau added that his background in various sectors would help in that respect, as he is able to connect with people from all walks of life.
“I've not only been involved in politics but I've also sat in the trenches behind the steering wheel of a truck and ran a couple of small businesses. So I can identify with the small business people, and the truck driver driving down the road, and the oil and gas industry.”
Parenteau joins three other candidates vying for constituents' votes in the Lakeland riding. Shannon Stubbs is running for the Conservatives, Duane Zaraska is representing the NDP, and Robert McFadzean is the Libertarian nominee. Voters will head to the polls on Oct. 19.