Just a few weeks ago, Guelph Member of Parliament Lloyd Longfield was re-elected to his position in Ottawa in a pretty overwhelming fashion. It wasn’t an easy road, there were a lot of angry questions about the Federal Liberals action (or lack there of) on climate change, the COVID-19 response, and Truth and Reconciliation. Longfield recently appeared on CFRU’s Open Sources Guelph to talk about those issues.
“A lot of what I was hearing prior to the election was amplified during the election, things like housing availability, and that’s going to be one of the one of the priorities that we’re going to work on right out of the gate,” Longfield said in a post-election interview last week.
Longfield said that another thing he’s working on “out of the gate” is assistance for refugees from Afghanistan. “We have learned a lot from the experience of bringing Syrian refugees to Canada, as well as to Guelph,” he said.
“The Afghan situation is somewhat different in that we don’t have access to the airport, we have to work more with our regional partners, and we will also have a different volunteer base probably,” Longfield explained. “During the campaign, I visited the downtown mosque where a lot of Afghan Muslims worship and had a meeting with their leadership. We’ll be looking at bringing together some community groups, there’s several churches, and some private individuals interested as well. We’ve been comparing some notes.”
In terms of the anger he heard on the campaign trail, particularly on issues of Truth and Reconciliation, Longfield said that it’s been tough facing the truth, but the road to reconciliation is even tougher, and will likely be longer than people want it to be.
“It’s not a race to get all 94 calls to action covered as quickly as possible. I think it’s more working with Indigenous communities to see what we can work on together and how we can accomplish the goals of the calls to action,” Longfield said. “You have to do things properly, foremost is having the Indigenous people weigh in on what the appropriate way going forward is.”
“One of the challenges is that Guelph has 2,200 people that are identified as Indigenous, and they’re without a common meeting ground, and also without a common background,” Longfield explained. “I was at the sacred fire ceremony and speaking to one of the Indigenous people there who said that shouldn’t have to pay for the space, they should be able to have it available, which, in an ideal world, would be would be a great way for us to do it, but how do we make that actually happen?
“Just as we have many voices at the table across Canada, we have many voices at the table in Guelph, and my job is to listen to the voices and see what can we do together to achieve the goals of Truth and Reconciliation,” Longfield added. “I think one of the best things is people are talking. If people didn’t care, they wouldn’t be talking.”
Longfield couldn’t settle on just one goal for the coming term of Parliament, but revealed that he will write himself a mandate letter, similar to the ones cabinet members receive from the prime minister, that will outline his priorities. Among them will be helping to being $10 per day childcare to Ontario, securing an end to the pandemic, fighting homelessness in Guelph, and working to achieve net zero and other climate action goals.
“With climate change goals we will have an audit in 2025, and we’d like to see ourselves well on track to be at net zero by 2050 or sooner,” Longfield said. “Sooner has an asterisk on it, but it really depends on how much front end loading some of our programs have, and how much uptake we have on things like charging stations, alternate fuels, deep retrofits on buildings, which then attaches itself to skilled trades at Conestoga and developing enough people to do the work that we need to do to fight climate change together.”