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Raj Pannu of Alberta is the oldest MLA in Canada!


Edmonton, Dec. 15, 2004

Raj 70, a retired professor, scored a hat-trick last month when he got elected for the third time from Edmonton

Professor Raj Pannu

Since arriving on the Alberta political scene in 1997, Raj Pannu has become one of the most respected political leaders in Alberta.

Raj was born in Punjab, India in 1934 and has been politically active from an early age.

Raj took his undergraduate education in India before coming to Canada in 1962. Immediately on arrival, he and his partner Swinder settled in Whitecourt where he taught high school until June 1964 when they moved to Edmonton. There, Raj commenced a graduate program in the fall of 1965 at the University of Alberta, finishing his doctorate degree in sociology in 1973.

He was appointed as assistant professor at York University in July 1968. After teaching there for one year he returned to the University of Alberta in 1969 as a full-time faculty member. Raj went on to teach in the departments of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology for the next 27 years before early retirement in 1996.

Raj was elected to the Alberta Legislature to represent Edmonton Strathcona on March 11, 1997. He initially served as the New Democrat Opposition House Leader and the caucus spokesperson on a number of portfolios including environment, education, advanced education, energy, human rights and justice.

He took over as Leader of the Alberta New Democrats in February of 2000, leading the party throughout the fight on Bill 11. He fought the 2001 general election, gaining respect and popularity for his principled and tough views on health care, education, and social justice.

Raj was re-elected in Edmonton-Strathcona in 2001, taking over 50% of the vote, defying many media predictions that he would lose his seat.

Raj has resided in the Strathcona area of Edmonton for more than three decades and has been an active member of the community. He served as a member of the Fort Edmonton Park Management Committee and, in 1996, briefly worked with Citizens for Quality Communities in Edmonton.



Tell us something about yourself not many people know!
I love to garden and take walks with my wife Swinder and Flossie our dog.

What are two issues you are *most* passionate about?
The longer I have sat as an MLA the more concerned I have become about integrity in politics. I am also very concerned about the future of two institutions which are basic to our Canadian identity: public healthcare and public education.

What's unique about your riding?
Its diversity and its cultural and artistic richness - who doesn't enjoy the Fringe and the Farmers' Market?

What are you most *famous* for?
Standing up to the Government's health privatization agenda, both inside the Assembly and on the steps of the Legislature. See magazine named me the most effective and passionate voice in the Legislature.

A Tory policy you are least satisfied with?
There are so many - but the ideological drive to privatize public facilities such as hospitals.

What do you dislike most about politics?
The focus on empty rhetoric rather than meaningful discussion .

So why did you decide to run, then?
I have unfinished work - there is a lot more to be done to try to address the failed policies of the Klein government.

If you weren't an MLA, what else would you be doing?
I would be gardening and walking with my wife and dog.

Your favourite hockey memory?
The Oiler's first Stanley Cup win.

What is the Alberta Advantage to you?
With our resources I think the Alberta Advantage should mean that we don't have people sleeping on the streets or lining up at food banks. It should mean the finest education and health care, vibrant and safe communities.

In THREE words, describe why we should vote for you?
Integrity, passion and commitment.

Your thoughts on the upcoming NHL or CFL season?
I hope there is one.

Place you visit most often in your riding?
Strathcona Farmers' Markert.

Best advice you have received (for running in an election):
Be honest with voters.



Raj Pannu of Alberta is the oldest MLA in Canada!

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