GLACE BAY: Cape Breton-Canso Member of Parliament Rodger Cuzner is seeking re-election.
Reached at his constituency office in Glace Bay on September 7, the long-time MP told The Reporter he made the decision based on a number of policies put forward by the Liberal Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Cuzner pointed to changes in the Canada Child Benefit, the increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the federal government’s investments in infrastructure as examples.
“I really like what the leader’s been doing and I respect what he’s accomplished to date,” the Member of Parliament stated. “The announcement of the extension of the Trans-Canada between Antigonish and New Glasgow, that’s something that’s outside of my riding but has huge benefits for everybody in my riding and it’s been something that I’ve advocated for for quite some time.”
Another example was the recent completion of the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex in Guysborough.
“That was a great day when we got to Guysborough for the grand opening,” Cuzner recalled. “It’s a spectacular building. We’ve been able to make some targeted, key investments that are going to be of benefit to a lot of people.”
Despite those accomplishments, Cuzner acknowledged the governing Liberals have also experienced their share of challenges, including recent negotiations around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“We still have challenges,” Cuzner noted. “As we speak today, the NAFTA negotiations are ongoing. They’ve been difficult but I’m proud of the way the minister has handled herself.. and I’m proud of the fact that the Prime Minister has shown tremendous discipline and patience.”
Another obstacle for Cuzner and the Liberals are their falling public opinion poll numbers, some of which indicate a close race with the second place Conservative Party, as well as the waning popularity of the Prime Minister.
The Cape Breton-Canso MP responded he has nothing but respect for a Prime Minister willing to tackle tough issues like the legalization of cannabis and euthanasia, and be completely open to the public, unlike his predecessor.
“There are always going to be issues and people base their decision as to who they support on a broad variety of rationale,” Cuzner said. “Some don’t appreciate his style, some don’t appreciate his policies but I think, by and large, my respect and admiration for our Prime Minister has only grown over the years I’ve known him. He’s disciplined, he’s fearless, he’s not scared to take on any of the difficult issues and he’s shown that.”
First elected in 2000, Cuzner has served as Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, as Chief Whip of the Official Opposition, and as Chair of Atlantic Caucus. He was named Opposition Critic for a variety of portfolios including Sport, Veterans’ Affairs, Fisheries and Oceans, and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He currently serves as the Parliamentary Secretary for Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.
Although he is approaching the rare political milestone of his 20th year as an MP, Cuzner said he is currently in a great position to continue serving the Strait area.
“Right now I’ve got three adult sons, and once they left the nest and you’re not racing home to make a hockey game, or drop off the car, or go to a school concert, that sort of changes the dynamic at home as well,” he explained. “That’s given me the opportunity to spend some extra time in areas I know are important to the people I represent.”
Cuzner added the Liberal Party is in the midst of a nomination process which he expects to wrap later in the month.
“We’re ready to go, we’ve had a couple of organizational meetings already and we’ve been doing some fundraising,” Cuzner added. “We’re working toward the next election already.”