For anyone seeking to be anointed into New Democrat knighthood, Grant Notley Park is a fitting place to start.

The venue, named after late NDP party stalwart Grant Notley was where Edmonton human rights leader, community advocate and communications consultant-turned-politician Lewis Cardinal announced his candidacy for NDP nomination in the federal riding of Edmonton-Centre on Thursday.

Flanked by local NDP MPs Linda Duncan and Rachel Notley, Cardinal made his pitch in front of several supporters and reporters, sounding like U.S. President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign.

“This is not going to be easy,” Cardinal said.

“By selecting Edmonton-Centre, I am well aware of the opposition and the challenges that we’ll face,” he said.

But by stepping forward, he said he was bringing “a voice of concern, a voice of firmness that will address again our social contract with the rest of Canada and within our own community.”

Cardinal, a U of A alumnus who is originally from Wood Cree, Alta., is a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal for his work in the areas of human rights and diversity and holds numerous community board positions.

With the economy floundering, he said, the first casualties are the workers, the immigrants and the single moms and promised to impress on the federal government their obligation to provide affordable housing once elected.

Cardinal said he chose NDP because it “represents for me values and principles across the board.”

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