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Charlie Angus will rock as federal NDP leader

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus, who is running for the NDP leadership, made a campaign stop, meeting with local media before heading over to the National Day of Mourning event held at the Timmins Miner’s Memorial. That’s where Angus performed his folk ballad War Down Below, describing the lives and travails of hard rock miners in Northern Ontario. Aside from being an MP, Angus is an author, historian and performer with the folk country music group known as the Grievous Angels. Friday April 28, 2017. (Len Gillis/Timmins Daily Press/Postmedia Network)

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus, who is running for the NDP leadership, made a campaign stop, meeting with local media before heading over to the National Day of Mourning event held at the Timmins Miner’s Memorial. That’s where Angus performed his folk ballad War Down Below, describing the lives and travails of hard rock miners in Northern Ontario. Aside from being an MP, Angus is an author, historian and performer with the folk country music group known as the Grievous Angels. Friday April 28, 2017. (Len Gillis/Timmins Daily Press/Postmedia Network)

"On the political spectrum, I’m somewhere between Tommy Douglas and Joe Strummer."

- Federal NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus

Charlie Angus is a former punk rocker who formed the band L’Etranger after hearing The Clash; is recognized for his dedicated work with First Nations and thinks unions are fundamental to a better society.

Plus – he has been elected as Member of Parliament to his northern Ontario riding of Timmins-James Bay five times; worked with the homeless in Toronto; successfully fought a toxic waste incinerator; wrote seven books; and was elected NDP caucus chair.

That’s more than enough to make believe Angus will rock as the federal New Democratic Party leader – but there’s much more I like.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t think politicians of any stripe are speaking to them,” Angus said in an interview Sunday. “I offer straight talk, an authentic voice that cuts through the spin.”

And that he does, not mincing words when asked about the NDP’s disastrous 2015 election under outgoing leader Tom Mulcair, where the party lost over half its seats instead of contesting for power.

“I think 2015 is an example of the danger of the NDP getting disconnected from its base,” Angus says. “We came into 2015 with a very, very rigid centrally controlled machine that did not listen – ever – to the wisdom of the folks who’d been out in the field for years.”

“It’s really up to New Democrats to speak to people who really are being written off the political and economic map of Canada, to channel their frustrations,” he says.

Angus has staked out different ground than his leadership rivals on the challenging issue of oil pipelines.

“I’ve been really concerned that we not divide the BC NDP from the Alberta NDP,” Angus says. “It’s always flashpoint politics, this pipeline or that pipeline. What I’ve called for is to legislate the hard caps, put the limits on production of greenhouse gases.”

Angus has three themes to his campaign: economic, environmental and indigenous justice, adding: “And we can’t get one unless we get all three.”

But Angus doesn’t want an NDP that still sits in third place: “We have to be focused on winning – that’s why I’m in this.”

Win power with tougher, smarter politics and not simply spin? That rocks.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com. Twitter: @BillTieleman