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Political Neophyte Takes Aim At NDP Leadership

Ibrahim Bruno El-Khoury says grassroots groups key to his uphill campaign.

By Jeremy J. Nuttall 25 May 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Jeremy J. Nuttall is The Tyee’s reader-funded Parliament Hill reporter in Ottawa. Find his previous stories here.

The lineup of higher profile candidates isn’t stopping Ibrahim Bruno El-Khoury from taking a shot at the federal NDP leadership.

A management consultant who immigrated from Lebanon and became a Canadian citizen in 1996, El-Khoury aims to make up ground against his already well-known opponents based on his professional experience and social justice ideals.

He hasn’t yet raised the $30,000 entry fee or collected the signatures required to become an official candidate, but El-Khoury’s bid has been approved by the party and he plans to become better known and promote his ideas out to the party members.

El-Khoury is a political newcomer, becoming involved in 2013 as a candidate for municipal council in Montreal. He ran under the banner of Vrai Changement Pour Montréal, a party founded by current federal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly.

He said his journey into politics started after years in the business world made him more concerned about social issues, particularly social democracy.

“The NDP was basically the closest party in which I would find some common values to share,” El-Khoury told The Tyee in a phone interview.

Despite having much in common with the party, El-Khoury said he still has some differences with the New Democrats, including internal democratic practices.

The NDP must admit it is part of a Canadian system failing to serve democratic values, he said.

“I believe democracy needs an upgrade,” El-Khoury said. “If you need to change a paradigm and a country at the national level you have to change yourself first.”

He points to the party’s nomination process as an example and questions the NDP's fixation on fundraising, which he says should have no place in Canadian politics.

The race to replace current leader Tom Mulcair has been too drawn out already, he said. Mulcair announced his resignation in April 2016 and the leadership vote will be in October.

“It’s too long, it’s time consuming,” he said. “We don’t really need all that.”

A leadership race should last 60 days, he said. Debates aren’t needed, he added. Candidates can just “share their vision” and lay out their platforms.

The virtually unknown El-Khoury is up against a slate of opponents who already have name recognition including MPs Niki Ashton, Guy Caron, Charlie Angus and Peter Julian.

Those four candidates are the only official ones who had raised their cash and signatures at the time this article was published.

In addition retired colonel and former veterans ombudsman Pat Stogran and deputy leader of the Ontario NDP Jagmeet Singh have said they intend to run.

El-Khoury acknowledged the challenge.

“It is extremely hard,” he said. “I have acquired by experience and by learning when you believe in something, when you’re convinced about what you’re doing, you’re in harmony.”

He said social media will be key to his campaign. El-Khoury often reaches out via Facebook to specific groups concerned about the same issues as the NDP to help increase his recognition.

Such grassroots groups are his core supporters, he said. In fact, he thinks his support from those in grassroots movements equals that of some other candidates.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics

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