The Liberal candidate for one of B.C.’s newest federal ridings has lived all across the west and north of the country.
John Aldag is running in the Cloverdale-Langley City riding, newly created from pieces of several old ridings.
Aldag is on a leave of absence from his work managing the Fort Langley National Historic Site, the latest posting in a 32-year career with Parks Canada.
Born in rural Saskatchewan, Aldag was pursuing a university degree in the 1980s when he was offered a full-time job with Parks Canada.
He took the posting and found himself bouncing around the country, working in Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and B.C.
When he was sent to Fort Smith, he had never been north of 60 before.
“It was an absolutely amazing experience,” Aldag said.
In Wood Buffalo National Park – larger than some small European countries – he was always invited to do the whooping crane counts, Aldag recalled.
The count was done by flying an airplane over the nesting grounds. When the plane went overhead, the cranes stood up. Then the pilot banked hard and the observer – Aldag – had to count the eggs in the nests in a hurry while peering through a pair of binoculars.
“I was always chosen to go along on the whooping crane flights because I was quick with the binoculars, and I didn’t barf,” Aldag said.
Over most of his career, which started in 1983, federal civil servants were not allowed to be politically active. Aldag didn’t think much about politics until the early 1990s when federal workers won the right to be politically active.
He said he found his values aligned with the Liberals, but that he stepped back from the party around 2005, when he said it seemed to have lost its way.
He joined the party two years ago as the party was in what he called its rebuilding phase.
Aldag was named as the Liberal candidate last year, and since late 2013 he’s been on leave from his job to campaign.
Because the riding where he’s competing is so new, Aldag has spent a lot of time knocking on doors, and even had business cards printed up with a map of the riding on one side.
“There’s still a bit of confusion,” he said.
Big issues for Aldag are jobs and the economy as well as transit and infrastructure – he believes transit would make a big difference fore people in the South of the Fraser area.
His own past has made him passionate about parks and the environment, he said, as well as about preserving what can be kept of built heritage.
A lot of older structures are being knocked down as the area develops rapidly, Aldag said.
“I think we need to understand what it is that we’re losing,” he said.
A new riding means it’s uncertain who the frontrunner will be.
“Is there a clear winner? No,” said Aldag.
The federal election will be held on Oct. 19.