Paul Dewar is convinced the NDP can take the reins of power if the grassroots rallies.
The federal leadership candidate told party faithful Tuesday that considerable work needs to be done to challenge the Conservatives in the 2015 election.
“It’s about taking on the next 70 seats we need to win to form government,” said the Ottawa MP.
“I want us to do everything we can to convince Canadians we’re not only a government in waiting but we’re ready to govern.”
He says that will require the official opposition promoting itself in every riding, and he points to the current government as an example.
“The Conservatives have done a good job of building up certain ridings at the grassroots level.
“I’m running to win (the leadership), but no matter who is the leader, I want the infrastructure in place so we can go to the next level.”
Dewar believes many people are detached from politics and they are looking for an alternative.
“We have to put forward ideas that are sound. We have to show why we are different,” he said.
“We have to show people government has a role in ensuring we have a decent pension, we have a decent health care system and that young people have opportunities.”
Dewar says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has abused the majority mandate given to it last spring.
“When they’re shutting down Parliament, stuffing the Senate and spending money without saying what it’s being spent on, I would say it’s not competent and certainly not democratic,” he said.
As an example, Dewar took a swing at Harper’s recent suggestions at an economic summit in Switzerland that there could be changes to Old Age Security.
“Instead of going to Davos to talk to millionaires, he should have come home to talk to seniors. This is an out-of-touch government.”
Dewar also accused the Conservatives of unfairly trying to influence public hearings into a proposed oil pipeline in northern B.C.
“Instead of calling people radicals and enemies of the state (if they have concerns), let’s have a fair process,” he said.
Dewar is one of eight candidates seeking the federal NDP leadership. The vote will be March 24.