Former veterans’ ombudsman enters NDP race
Stogran becomes first non-MP to join campaign
Former veterans’ ombudsman Pat Stogran entered the federal NDP leadership race Thursday with an impassioned appeal to "us commoners.”
Calling successive Liberal and Conservative governments an entrenched “Politics Inc.,” Stogran said he believes the NDP can offer an alternative to the “same old garbage.”
“Our leadership has been burdening us with quick, piecemeal and patchwork temporary fixes, and groupthink that will definitely come back to bite our children in their collective backsides,” he said.
A retired colonel, Stogran served in the military for more than 30 years and was Canada’s first veterans affairs ombudsman from 2007 to 2010. Though he said Thursday he was largely “apolitical” until now, he was critical of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
For the past five years, Stogran said, he’s been “scheming” and trying to figure out how to “hold their feet to the fire” in Ottawa. He becomes the fifth candidate, and the first non-MP, to enter the race.
In his announcement Thursday morning at an Ottawa hotel, Stogran talked about some of the same issues the other leadership candidates have raised, focusing on broken promises from Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government on indigenous child welfare, electoral reform and ethics.
He said the LEAP manifesto, a source of controversy in the party because of its abolitionist view on oil pipelines, is full of “great ideas.”
But it’s a “mountain of ideas,” he said. “When I was in the army — I’ll tell you a war story here — we did mountain ops training. We learned how to climb mountains. You know how to climb a mountain? You don’t leap. You leap to your death. You have to climb one handhold at a time and make sure you’ve got a firm grip before you reach to the next step. … We cannot get rid of pipelines tomorrow.”
Like other candidates, Stogran dislikes free trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He also had strong words about Canada’s military involvement in the Middle East, saying the coalition of which Canada is a part is “digging the hole deeper in Syria.”
On Canada-U.S. relations he said little, though he alluded to Pierre Trudeau’s quote about getting into bed with an elephant.
“We’ve got to be very careful that we’re not flinching and reacting to every burp, fart and whatever else that happens,” he said. “I would say that the biggest problems we face here have been made in Canada and should be sorted out in Canada before we start telling other countries how to sort their problems out.”
Stogran is up against four MP candidates: B.C.’s Peter Julian, Manitoba’s Niki Ashton, Ontario’s Charlie Angus and Quebec’s Guy Caron. The National Post recently reported the Ontario NDP’s deputy leader Jagmeet Singh is mobilizing for a run, and union veteran Sid Ryan may throw his hat in, too.
The next official leadership debate is May 28 in Sudbury, Ont. Party members will choose a new leader in October.
OUR LEADERSHIP HAS BEEN BURDENING US WITH QUICK, PIECEMEAL ... FIXES.
A retired colonel, Pat Stogran served in the Canadian military for more than three decades.