Education, mental health and human rights are some of the issues NDP candidate Matt Fedler is promoting in his campaign.
Fedler, who will be running in the upcoming Battlefords-Lloydminster federal byelection, spoke to guests at an open house at his campaign office in North Battleford Wednesday night.
"I've talked a lot about basic human rights," he said, following his talk. "I think we have a big Indigenous community here in our riding and it's unconscionable to me that some young people on reserves are faced with Third World living conditions.
Fedler said he believes both health care and access to education are basic human rights. He added Canada needs to work towards having a tuition-free higher education similar to many other countries.
To deal with the problem of high crime in the North Battleford area, Fedler said "we need to really re-think our strategy here. We've been investing a lot in prosecution and punishment when we need to be looking at prevention," he said.
The local candidate said the NDP want to work towards having universal mental health coverage.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so that will be the strategy in terms of crime," he said.
On the carbon tax issue, Fedler said he is in favour of the carbon tax as long as the money from it goes back to small businesses, low income families, farmers and towards investing in renewable energy.
From North Battleford, Fedler, who is Metis, previously attended University of Regina under a scholarship as a wrestler.
He currently coaches wrestling in Wilkie and in the local community and resides in North Battleford.
Fedler previously worked at a summer student at the Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford, as well as at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
When he moved back to the area last year he began work as a program coordinator at the local CMHA.
Fedler said he became interested in running as an NDP candidate after attending the NDP AGM.
"Politics has always been an interest of mine," he said. “Bernie Sanders was a big influence for me as well as many other young people. You can get involved in politics and you can make a real difference..."
Fedler said he also appreciates the welcoming spirit of the NDP in the area.
While the Battlefords-Lloydminster federal riding has traditionally voted Conservative, Fedler believes the NDP have a chance of breaking that stronghold.
"We're the underdog but I relish the underdog role," he said.” I've been that in my fighting career before. I love proving people wrong... If we work hard over the next few weeks, maybe with a little bit of luck I think we'll pull it off."
The byelection takes place Dec. 11.
On Twitter: @battlefordsnow
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