At 22, Laidler served as a corporal in the Canadian military and during his tour in Afghanistan was in near daily contact with Afghans working as interpreters for the forces. When he and other soldiers learned the Afghans had little by way of benefits, even when injured, and the extent to which working for Canadians put their lives at risk, the soldiers began calling for the Canadian government to help.
PTSD led him to politicsLaidler also has an understanding of why people might not trust government to get things done. He'd been that way himself. "When I came home from Afghanistan, I'd studied political science, I'd door-knocked in politics before, but I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder, I thought the system doesn't work, people don't listen, nothing gets done." He'd also come home with post traumatic stress disorder. That led him to a research program at the University of British Columbia, focusing on helping veterans transition to civilian life, a program he eventually ended up helping run. That took him to Parliament Hill where the Veterans Transition Network was ultimately awarded significant funding to roll out its services nationally. The experience taught him, he said, that if you approach situations in a positive way — focusing on a solution instead of a problem — then the chip on your shoulder can vanish. And so, he's running for office. While Sunday's star showing is sure to give his campaign a boost, several Conservative cabinet ministers have been publicly supporting him for months, posting pictures of themselves with Laidler on social media or sending public notes of encouragement.
Tim Laidler, left, poses for a photo with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and outgoing industry minister and B.C. MP James Moore. (Photo: PMO/Facebook)Those photographs have drawn criticism; PressProgress, a media project under the auspices of the left-leaning Broadbent Institute, noted that the pictures were often taken at government funding announcements, suggesting taxpayer resources went into what were essentially campaign snaps for the candidate. The issue even came up during Question Period, raised by the NDP. Laidler is fighting to take an NDP seat away from the party. The incumbent for the area is Fin Donnelly, who won the seat in 2011 by about 2,000 votes. But redistribution has changed the boundaries, putting more people who voted Conservative in 2011 into the district. Both parties say they expect it to be a tough fight.
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