As the federal Liberal candidate for Red Deer-Lacombe, Jeff Rock is working to ensure he connects with the wide variety of citizens he hopes to represent.
Members of the Red Deer-Lacombe Federal Liberal Association selected Rock as their representative in January. Since that time, Rock has engaged in a number of activities to become more involved in the communities included in the riding.
“Red Deer is split into two with the redistribution of the ridings, and I’m actually really excited. I think the new riding of Red Deer-Lacombe reflects a lot of the diversity that is Canada,” Rock said.
“It’s both rural and urban, it’s oil and gas and agriculture and it has a large Indigenous community. In Red Deer and Lacombe there are an increasing number of immigrants as well – I think it reflects a lot of Canadian people.”
Rock and his team of volunteers have been door-knocking for several months engaging with the public. He said many of the people he’s talked to shared a common thought – they were undecided about where to place their votes and trust.
“It’s no secret that this is the conservative heartland in a lot of ways, but I think people have grown tired of Stephen Harper and they are looking for a viable alternative. I am introducing myself to people and I’m seeking to be part of that viable alternative,” he said.
“I think that for the last 10 years, Canadians have become increasingly more divided and I think people are ready to come together in a new way.”
To reach into more rural communities such as Rimbey, Alix and Bentley, Rock and his team are working to create a number of meet-and-greet events at local cafés in the communities. As well, Rock has reached out to a number of Indigenous communities, including the area of Maskwacis, where a number of reserves come together.
“In my work as a minister, I have the privilege of working with a lot of First Nations communities and different projects of initiatives. The riding of Red Deer-Lacombe includes the four reserves that make up Maskwacis, as well as a large urban Indigenous population. It’s been a real pleasure for me to be able to partake in some of those conversations,” Rock said.
He was recently invited to partake in a powwow in Maskwacis, and is involved with a number of Aboriginal community projects in Red Deer.
“I’ve attended some of the sweat lodges here and I was involved with the Remembering the Children Society, and the local Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As well, Walking With Our Sisters was a recent event that I had volunteered with,” he said.
“A lot of the folks involved in those activities are my friends in town and it was great to support them and see the work they are doing.”
Another issue very close to Rock’s heart, and to his party’s ideals is the notion of balancing environment and economy.
“A really big issue for us here in Alberta is holding the economy and environment together. I think it’s irresponsible to deny climate change and I think it’s irresponsible to demonize the oil and gas industry,” he said.
“The Liberal platform has been trying to find the right balance between the environment and economy to ensure we have the social license to bring our products to market. I think our current government is just not doing that.
“Canada is a diverse country from coast to coast to coast. Different provinces have different needs and each community has different needs. That’s the reason I decided to step up and run – I want to help bring Canadians closer together, from all walks of life. I want to encourage conversations to happen,” Rock said.
Canadians go to the polls Oct. 19th.