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Oct. 16, 2021 | Saturday
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Election Profile: Brian Barker NDP candidate
Brian Barker, NDP candidate during climate strike on Sept. 27 in Old Town. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Brian Barker says he will “work tirelessly” for the people of Niagara; the federal New Democratic Party candidate for the Niagara Falls riding says his 20 years of experience in education will be an asset while serving the community.

He represented more than 1,500 teachers as the vice president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario for the last six years, and Barker says he plans to continue representing the community by running for public office.

“Politics has always fascinated me. One of my first political heroes was a guy like Peter Kormos. A very salt of the Earth guy, he connected with the community and fought for every person.”

Barker was an educator for 14 years before serving the teachers in the federation and he says the experience and skills gained during that time prepared him for this challenge.

“I think there are a lot of skills that go along with being a teacher that would also go along with being a good member of parliament,” he says.

He lists empathy and an ability to listen as some of his best qualities, as well not being afraid to roll up his sleeves and actually put the time in to get to know the people of the community and hear their concerns.

“Being in a classroom every single day you’re having to put out fires, deal with different personalities, come up with different solutions,” he says, adding that sometimes solutions aren’t one-size fits all.

Affordability is a concern for many, and one Barker says is important to him personally.

“I think the whole idea of folks being able to work hard and succeed, having an opportunity so things are within their reach. That’s what is important to me and why I feel that the NDP platform aligns with how I personally feel,” he says.

His two kids have been the biggest motivator pushing him into pursuing the leadership role, he says.

“I worry that when they’re ready to get out there into the world that they won’t be able to afford to,” he added.

That’s why the NDP’s plans for affordability struck a chord with him. The NDP platform promises to create 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years.

“That’s really the driving motivation behind me running – I wanted to affect that change.”

Coming from a working-class family, Barker says he can relate to, and fight for the general public.

“The NDP wants to fight and help everybody. Some of the things we’re fighting for – National Dental Care program, National Pharmacare program. These are things that I think would benefit everybody, not just a select few,” he says.

Locally, Barker says he understands that development is a concern for many residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“I think what makes Niagara-on-the-Lake so unique is the rich cultural history that is here. If you deviated from that it would change the face of the town ... This is the first capital of Canada; I think it’s important to preserve that history,” he says.

The biggest promise he can make, he says, is that we won’t stop fighting for the people.

“I will work tirelessly for them; I will listen to their concerns. I plan to physically be in the constituency office as much as time permits me so I can actually meet with people and talk out their concerns.”