Former North Vancouver federal Liberal candidate Taleeb Noormohamed is a bit of a road warrior. Earlier this week, he was busy working in New York City with stops to make in Chicago and Toronto before finally heading back to the West Coast.
If he’s an Air Miles man, an on-the-house departure is surely on the horizon.
Noormohamed’s latest jaunt has been in support of the Clinton Global Initiative, a group created in 2005 by former American president Bill Clinton to tackle challenges such as poverty, education and the environment.
To date, hundreds of participants — including Nobel Prize winners, heads of state, journalists and philanthropists — have taken part in various CGI events.
For those that have followed his, albeit brief, political career, it likely comes as no surprise that Noormohamed’s involved with the progressive organization.
But the 35-year-old is far from just a creature of the high-profile public-policy arena. Noormohamed’s just as comfortable talking shop in the sparsely decorated, coffee-and-cookie catered meeting rooms of North Vancouver hotels.
“When I ran I made a commitment that the issues important to Canadians and to North Vancouverites are top of mind,” says Noormohamed, explaining his work ethic. “Having an open dialogue is very important. It’s critical to create spaces for people — likeminded people with similar concerns — to talk about public policy.”
Noormohamed’s latest local talk, held by the North Vancouver Liberal Riding Association two weeks ago, was a reflection on the first year of the Conservative’s majority government. Donning an appropriately coloured red golf shirt, Noormohamed prefaced his remarks with an apology: he had too much to say.
Predictably, Noormohamed spoke at length about the fears of the Harper government’s moves to cease public debate on hotly debated issues such as the future purchase of F-35 jets, or the lumping of revamped environmental processes in its massive omnibus budget bill.
What he didn’t touch on, however, was his assessment of the New Democrats and their new leader Tom Mulcair in the role of Official Opposition and the Grits’ oft-discussed search for a permanent leader.
So, what does he think of the not-so-new-anymore second party in the Commons?
“The emergence of the NDP is still in large part because of Jack Layton,” he says. “We should reflect on that legacy, we all can learn from him. But there is a big difference between Muclair and Layton.”
The most glaring example of that difference, believes Noormohamed, is the growing gap — highlighted by recent polls that suggest the NDP is gaining ground on the Tories because Liberal support is moving to the left — between liberal and conservative rhetoric in the country. And with the country’s longstanding centrist party now relegated to third place, the opposite ideologies present in Ottawa aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
“They can’t see the middle,” says Noormohamed. “As much as Mulcair would like to operate from the middle he can’t because the messages the party puts out historically hasn’t been one of compromise.”
And what of a new Liberal leader? So much has been said of Bob Rae’s supposed interest in making his interim reign an official one, or Justin Trudeau’s popularity — bolstered by his defeat of Tory senator Patrick Brazeau in a charity boxing match in March — being a key ingredient in revitalizing the Liberal brand.
But Noormohamed advocates for a focus on policy, not a figurehead. A cohesive stance on issues of interest to all Canadians will be the backbone of the Liberal party, he says, as it works to return power regardless of who’s chosen to lead the effort.
“We have to continue with a reflective approach to public policy. A leader is important but most important is getting out of a messianic complex,” says Noormohamed.
“A leader has to have a strong team.”
Click here for the article in the North Shore Outlook.