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Jack Draws a King

Sunday, April 1, 2007

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The as yet non-existent Federal election heated up in the Royal City on Friday when U of G English prof and author Tom King threw his hat into the ring as the NDP candidate for this riding. Adding to the fanfare was the appearance of Federal NDP leader Jack Layton in the downtown core, as he and King met the public Friday afternoon prior to that night’s nomination meeting at Norfolk United Church.

“I used to be an activist and it’s one of those things where it just seemed time for me to step forward,” said King about his decision to run now, adding that choosing to run for the NDP wasn’t a hard one. “Of the parties that I looked at, the NDP had the platform I was most in tune with especially on the environment, education and healthcare.”

King is known nation-wide as an author, educator, broadcaster and social activist. His CBC radio show “The Dead Dog Café” ran for four seasons and has returned regularly in the form of specials. His books, A Coyote Columbus and Green Grass, Running Water, were both nominated for Governor General’s Awards. He’s a member of the Order of Canada and he was the first Aboriginal Massey Lecturer in 2003 with The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative.

“Anyone who’s met Tom can immediately visualize him, rising in his place in the House of Commons and immediately taking on the other Members of Parliament in debate on important issues,” Layton told the Cannon about the attractiveness of King’s candidacy. “He has a presence, a wisdom, and a depth that I think is going to add a very important voice to the House.”

Layton credited King as an effective communicator who brings humour, knowledge and wisdom to discussion on a wide range of issues and that King and the NDP share a commitment to “the values of Tommy Douglas.” Layton went to say that he wanted to be in Guelph for the official nomination because it was a “historic” moment for King and that King will bring a lot of momentum to the party’s campaign.

“He’s well known by Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It’s going to excite the artistic community and the literary community as well and help underline support for the arts by our national government,” added Layton.

King was appreciative of Layton’s support and was grateful that his party’s leader could make the trip from Ottawa for his political debut. “I’m as pleased as I can be that Jack’s coming down. I think it shows a great amount of commitment and interest in the Guelph riding and I personally think that we have a good chance to win here and Jack does too.”

As for the small matter of the fact that the election hasn’t even been announced yet, King is ready to go when it’s called, but at this point he feels it may be autumn before the current Conservative minority government falls.

As for the issues, King is standing by the standard NDP platform: the environment, childcare, living wages and the prosperity gap. “All of those things are going to be of great concern to me and you’ll be hearing me talk about all these things during the campaign rather vigorously.”

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