Cuzner to decide political future

OTTAWA: Cape Breton-Canso Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner will soon decide whether he will re-offer for another term.

While speaking with The Reporter on March 26, the veteran Member of Parliament said he will meet with his family over the Easter weekend, then announce his decision.

Regardless what he decides, Cuzner said he supports the Liberal Party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I’m proud of the government and proud of what we accomplished in three years,” Cuzner said. “I know that the Prime Minister has been committed to leveling the playing field to under-represented groups in our economy – women, persons with disabilities, indigenous Canadians, new Canadians – making sure they have an opportunity to succeed and I support that whole-heartedly.”

Entering the federal election in October, Cuzner is very optimistic of his party’s chances and excited for the platform they will be presenting to voters.

“I know that we’re going to have a commitment to establishing universal pharmacare, and that’s something that Canadians can get behind and support,” Cuzner said. “Our commitment to high speed broadband, the investment in the Canada home buyers plan, the Canada Child Benefit, those are all things that have a positive impact on the people that I represent.”

If his only considerations were the Liberal platform and the possibility of a Conservative government, Cuzner said he would’ve announced his decision to re-offer long ago.

“The rise in prominence with groups like the Yellow Vest movement, that’s very concerning to me, and it should be to all Canadians,” Cuzner said. “[Conservative Leader] Andrew Scheer’s unwillingness to push back and call that out for what it is, that’s of concern. If that was the only issue, then yes, I’d be running again.”

First elected to the House of Commons in 2000, Cuzner has since been re-elected five times in the riding encompassing most of the Strait area, as well as parts of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

During his time in Ottawa, 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.

Cuzner currently serves as the Parliamentary Secretary for Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

When asked whether the Prime Minister’s decision to promote Nova Scotia MP Bernadette Jordan into cabinet is part of his decision, Cuzner was honest, but diplomatic.

“Obviously, I’d be less than honest with you if I told you I wasn’t disappointed with it,” Cuzner stated. “I was obviously disappointed with that… I’ve had my conversation with the Prime Minister, I’ve really enjoyed my opportunity to work on the files that I’ve had.”

After 19 years shuttling back and forth between Ottawa and Cape Breton, the 62-year-old Cuzner admitted the travel can be a drain, pointing out there are 53 volunteer fire departments and 18 legions alone in his geographically vast riding.

“When you get home, you’re job isn’t finished,” Cuzner noted. “We’re in Ottawa 30 weeks of the year, when you get home, communities want to see you and the riding is big and the travel is a challenge, and that will be something that will probably go in the other column.”