Red Deer city council has granted unpaid leave to Coun. Paul Harris to seek the NDP nomination in federal riding of Red Deer-Mountain View.
Harris is excused from his municipal duties until party members vote on Aug. 24 to determine who will represent the New Democratic Party in the Oct. 19 federal election: Evan Bedford, Dianne Macaulay or Harris.
If he is successful in the nomination bid, Harris’s leave will be extended until the election.
Macaulay, who is a Red Deer Public School Board trustee, will ask for leave from her office if she secures the nomination.
Harris said he is not required to take leave but it just felt like the right thing to do.
“It feels really appropriate to me not to be doing two things at once,” said Harris. “It would be difficult to separate council business from federal work.”
Council has two meetings next week, including the mid-year budget review on Tuesday.
Harris said he is disappointed to miss a few upcoming council items, including his motion to advocate for Red Deer College to become a polytechnic university and his joint motion with Coun. Ken Johnston on payday loan businesses.
Harris has been approached three times to run federally but turned down the offer for personal reasons. He said the timing feels right this time.
He also said he believes his experience in municipal and federal policy and politics stacks higher than his opponents. Harris is a third-term councillor and has sat on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board and committees.
The new riding covers the north side of the City of Red Deer. Other parties have already secured their candidates: Earl Dreeshen for the Conservatives, Mason Sisson for the Green Party and James Walper for the Libertarian. There is no Liberal candidate at this point.
NDPers will choose either Doug Hart or Katherine Swampy on Aug. 24 for the Red Deer-Lacombe riding (south Red Deer). Blaine Calkins is running for the Conservatives and Jeff Rock has the Liberal nod.
Electoral boundaries in Alberta have been redrawn, dissolving the former federal ridings of Red Deer and Wetaskiwin.
The former Red Deer riding was split into Red Deer-Lacombe and Red Deer-Mountain View.