Winfield resident Rita Dillon will be running under the red and white banner of the Liberal Party of Canada on Tuesday, Oct. 14 in hopes of winning the Wetaskiwin riding and taking a seat in the House of Commons.
While she may be a bit short when it comes to experience in the political ring, Dillon brings an impressive educational resume to the battle including a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Calgary.
A resident of the community for the past 14 years, Dillon returned to the academic scene after her children finished their schooling and following the death of her husband in 1999.
“I was dragged into politics by Mr. Harper,” Dillon said when asked what prompted her to run for office. “When Prime Minister Chretien refused to let Canada follow Mr. Harper into the US war in Iraq, Harper claimed that anyone who was against the Iraq War was a fan of Osama Bin Laden. At that point, I decided I had to get involved.”
She said she was first attracted to the Liberal Party when she saw how party leader Stephane Dion stood up to the Quebec Separatist movement in the 1990s, and has been a fan every since.
“Both he and his family needed 24-hour RCMP protection,” Dillon recalled while taking a shot at the powers that be. “I figured a party with him as leader would be honest and transparent, and I joined the Liberals two years ago to help him become its leader. I have since watched this decent, gutsy man be a victim of character assassination, the likes of which we have not seen in Canada. But it has not shaken my respect for him.”
As with other candidates hoping to land the central Alberta seat, Dillon pointed to the economy as the key issue in the upcoming election and added only the Liberals and their impressive track record of financial prowess, can give Canadians financial stability.
“The economy is what everyone is concerned about and it’s the area in which the Liberals have the best history,” she said. “The Liberals began cleaning up the Conservative mess of a $45 billion deficit in 1993. The Liberals balanced the budget and left a $12 billion surplus, which the Conservatives promptly spent. Conservative times are hard economic times. Only the Liberals know how to work with both government and business to guide Canada to financial security. As well, the Green Shift will ensure economic security because if we don’t curb our carbon discharges, Canada will be left behind and the Europeans may impose a carbon tax on our imports.”
Admittedly highly unlikely, Dillon was quick to point out that if the current economic crisis plaguing the United States crosses the border into Canada, she knows who to blame and why.
The crisis in the US economy is largely due to a right wing government that sacrificed citizens to the wants of an unregulated market economy. Our banks are more independent, so we should do better than the US however, we do not yet know where all of the US debt lies,” she said. “While Canadians wait for the other shoe to drop, we would do well to remember that Mr. Harper preaches the same de-regulation. His right-wing approach, which is partially responsible for the listeriosis outbreak, secretly removed inspectors and left the job of protecting Canadians to industries that owe their first allegiance to their stockholders. We should remember this when we place our faith in someone to serve and protect us.”
As for the notion that federal minority governments are constantly gridlocked and cannot function as they normally could or should, Dillon said it was preposterous and gave a few examples.
“Minority governments can work. Under Liberal minorities Canadians received national health care, the Canada Pension Plan, student loans, balanced budgets and the Canadian Maple Leaf flag. We also developed our reputation as international peacekeepers, and Lester B. Pearson won a Nobel Peace Prize for doing it,” she said. “However, Mr. Harper seems to have trouble working with others. As a result, his one-man show has put our economy in danger. Mr. Harper is the first prime minister in Canadian history whose policies have caused a reduction in Canadian productivity. This solo-flying experiment should end.”
In summing up her campaign strategy, Dillon urged voters to carefully weigh all their options before they cast their ballots and to show all candidates in all ridings some appreciation for the sacrifices they have or will make for the better of the country and all citizens.
“I ask voters to open their minds and hearts so they can examine and weigh the information they have received and I urge them to check this information out. Third party independent sources like the Sierra Club, should be used when assessing the environment approaches of all parties,” she said. “Running for office is demanding and exhilarating and I also urge voters to show appreciation to all those who have asked for your vote by thinking through their responses and making an informed choice.”