A local man wants to change the face of Parliament. Twenty-two-year-old Ben Turner is vying for a Liberal nomination to run in the newly created Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding in the next federal election. “I’m not too pleased with the current government. I gave them my vote and I feel like they turned around and betrayed it,” he said.
Currently, said Turner, the House of Commons is made up mostly of lawyers and business people and he doesn’t believe it accurately represents the true face of Canada. Turner works as a labourer but also calls himself an artist and a millennial and believes more people are like him than the current elected representatives.
“This is a group that is just not represented in any party. I’d like to change the discourse a bit.”
It’s been 20 years since a Liberal from this area was elected to the House of Commons, he said. He wants to see that change and believes he can be a voice for Edmonton-Wetaskiwin with the focus being on coming up with solutions rather than partisan politics. For example, when it comes to the oil and gas industry there has always been two sides to the argument…either say yes to a pipeline or no.
“We need to change the way we talk,” he said. Instead of choosing black and white solutions, Turner said why not build a pipeline and use money generated from that line into renewable, alternative sources of energy. “We’ll always need oil, but there are alternatives for fuelling our cars. We can do both,” he said.
Originally from Calmar, Turner currently lives in Leduc. While he hasn’t held office before, Turner said he’s been active in Rotary International and helped start the high school-based program Interact (a youth division of Rotary) when he was in high school in Calmar. He has also been active in the Thorsby Army Cadet program. He has traveled all over the world and wants to use what he learned to change how decisions that affect Canadians are made.
“In the current political climate, I’ve watched lots of cuts to education. Tuition fees are going up and government funding is going down. I went to school but had to quit because I couldn’t afford it. I had to make the decision to stay in school and pay back thousands of dollars or get a job and make a living.”
Knowing that’s a choice for many young people, Turner wants to change that. He also wants to see more money in the hands of Canadian families but the current Conservative government income-splitting proposal is not feasible.
“Income splitting only applies to about 15 per cent but it costs $2 billion. At a time when we’re cutting education and health services I’d like to see this county reinvest in education. We can’t afford to fall behind (other countries). We need to see more money, not less.”
Turner also wants to put an end to the omnibus bills and make Parliament more transparent.
“It you’re trying to push something through, it’s easy to hide it in there,” he said. “We need more accountability and a government looking after the middle class more than the upper class.”
While there are some who would question his youth, Turner said we have a “very young population” in the area, which would make him representative of their ideas.
“My age doesn’t nullify my ideas. I am inspired by the people who live and work here.”