The only candidate for the People’s Party of Canada in Newfoundland talks about his background, his policies and the current election cycle.
Ben Ruckpaul casts an intimidating figure at six feet tall and having shoulders like a defensive lineman. Talking with him, however, will quickly dispel that impression. A self-described army brat and the son of a Yugoslavian refugee mother, Ruckpaul moved around a lot before settling in Newfoundland.
“I came here at 17 all by myself, and I did biology, political science at MUN,” said Ruckpaul. “I decided to stay because I thought it’d be unfair of me to get my degree here then leave. Newfoundland is a place that has really allowed me to mature into a man rather than just being, you know, a young boy out of high school.”
Ruckpaul was a card-carrying Conservative before switching parties. He voted for Maxime Bernier in the leadership race for the Conservative Party. After Bernier lost, Ruckpaul did some research on the now party leader Andrew Scheer, found that he didn’t represent his values, and left. Some friends of Ruckpaul approached him about being a candidate for the PPC, which he eventually agreed to.
“We want to make sure that everyone has a fair shot.”– Ben Ruckpaul
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Ruckpaul. “And you know, what better way to give back to a province that has taken me (in) and that has given so much to me … I would be honoured to represent them on the national stage, and to fight for them.”
Ruckpaul’s platform rests on the ideas of low taxes, personal responsibility and freedom. His party is looking to get rid of the taxes on capital gains, give provinces more control over certain sectors such as their natural resources and health sectors, lower immigration numbers and “cut the red tape” for educated immigrants coming to Canada.
“Ultimately, we run on our core values of personal responsibility, freedom, respect and fairness,” said Ruckpaul. “So we want to make sure that everyone has a fair shot. Equality of opportunity is a really, really important thing for us.”
Despite his own background as the son of a refugee, Ruckpaul doesn’t see a problem with the PPC’s stance on lowering immigration numbers to 150,000 a year from the current more than 300,000. They want to cut certain regulations that stop immigrants from getting into their trained professions, such as doctors and engineers.
“Another thing really that’s important for us is to make sure that Canadians have a better quality of life,” said Ruckpaul. “That they’re able to say what they want to say without fear of government interference, that they’re able to have more money in their pocket and that they’re able to build a life for themselves – for Canadians who have been born here and lived here all their lives, or for new Canadians who immigrate here and who want to want to build a better life for themselves. We want to be fair for everybody.”
“I have high hopes, but I remain realistic.”– Steven Pye
The PPC has been at the centre of some controversy in Canada. Steven Pye, a member of Ruckpaul’s campaign team, said they’ve felt a bit of push back from the public. PPC signs have been vandalized as has their campaign car. Despite all this, he remains optimistic about the parties’ future.
“I have high hopes, but I remain realistic,” said Pye. “It would be, for me, a best-case scenario if we won 12 seats or more.”
Pye shares the same non-interventionist sentiments as Ruckpaul.
“The biggest thing for me is smaller government,” said Pye. “I truly believe that individuals, when left to themselves, will flourish more efficiently than big government telling people how to live their lives.”
Although Ruckpaul admits there has been some controversy around his candidacy, he says the media in Newfoundland has been more than fair to him, and welcomes them to challenge his point of view. He, too, remains optimistic about the PPC’s chances this election season.
“There’s an optimistic feeling going into it,” said Ruckpaul. “Even the people that I’ve spoken to today, people that I’ve spoken to over the period of my campaign, there’s a lot of support out there. We expect to win a couple of seats for sure, and hopefully we can win more than a couple and make a real go of it.”