Libertarian candidate fights for votes in Calgary byelection
Since the Calgary Centre riding’s introduction in 1968, voters in the riding have never elected a small party or independent candidate as their member of parliament.
Libertarian Party of Canada candidate Tony Prashad, a father of three, who works for Calgary Transit and ran in the Toronto mayoral race in 2003 under the name Rabindra Prashad, hopes to change that.
“My goals are to get urban farming, a food security strategy and help with poverty,” Prashad said passionately, when asked what he hoped to accomplish if elected.
The former goal should come as no surprise to potential voters who know him, as Prashad has been an advocate for better food security since his days working in the restaurant industry in Quebec and Ontario.
While in the industry, he spent five years working as an executive chef at
Photo courtesy of Tony PrashadToronto’s popular Le Papillon restaurant, which has been awarded Toronto’s Best French Restaurant a number of times, by various publications.
Views on agriculture
When he moved to Calgary eight years ago for family reasons, he noticed something interesting about the agriculture in and around Calgary.
“I saw that most of the agriculture was owned by multi-national corporations that were filling their land with genetically modified crops.”
Along with this problem, he also noticed a change in the eggs that he was buying in the grocery store.
“The eggs would just kind of fall apart on me when I cracked them.”
This observation led to Prashad becoming a part of the urban chicken movement in Calgary.
Prashad now owns six chickens and has fresh eggs all the time.
Besides his views on food security, Prashad has also seen a growing divide amongst people in Calgary.
“There is a huge divide on who’s prospering and who’s barely hanging on,” he said.
“Two hundred and fifty thousand people moved here with the hopes of finding jobs and equal opportunities, but the opportunities aren’t equal. I want provide them with some sort of hope and support in the future,” he said, slapping his hand on the table.
According to Prashad, one of the biggest obstacles he has faced during this campaign has been being excluded from most public forums.
Prashad said he has been given several reasons for those exclusions, ranging from his party does not have a seat in parliament to he is not considered a major candidate, but does not consider any of them valid.
“This is as sign that our government is not willing to accept change. If they are opposed to change, even if change is being asked for, then what they are standing for is no change.”
A possible solution
Prashad’s solution to the problem of excluding candidates from public forums is to include everyone.
“It’s been my experience with other meetings (boards and associations) that there are always people there who weren’t there at past meetings and you have to also give those people an opportunity to speak.”
To date, Prashad has only been invited or included in two public forums: one at Mount Royal University and one put on by the Rosscarrock Community Association.
Prashad’s campaign is also spending less money than his major competitors, potentially making it more difficult for him to get his message out.
But, according to him, “This campaign has nothing to do with money and I’ve demonstrated that by not spending any money.”
While other parties have been spending money on buttons, signs, posters and events, Prashad said his campaign has cost a mere $1,000 and the time himself and other volunteers have put in to it.
“My reason for running is I want to stick it to these parties. I want the people of Calgary to stick it to them to and say we chose the party that didn’t spend any money and is showing honesty, openness, transparency and integration.”
A political analyst’s view
Political analyst Keith Brownsey – a professor at Mount Royal University – doubts Prashad or voters will be sticking it to the other parties anytime soon.
“Prashad has no profile and is not running a high profile campaign like the other candidates.” Brownsey said.
Brownsey was also quick to point out that being Libertarian may be Prashad’s biggest obstacle, due to the party’s obscurity with voters.
Nevertheless, Prashad hopes all the hours he and his volunteers have worked on the campaign trail have raised his profile – and that of his party.
“Libertarians know that Calgary is feeling the pain right now and we want to be the choice to help Calgary.”
Prashad concluded the interview by pointing out there are other parties and he hopes Calgarians give him a chance to bridge the gap and bring people together.