Conservative candidate Charlotte Larocque has been doing what aspiring politicians do – knocking on voters’ doors – as she seeks to become the next Member of Parliament for Churchill-Keewatinook Aski in the Sept. 20 federal election.
“I put the literature in the mailbox, then knock, then stand back and wait for them to come and let them know it’s in their mailbox and, of course, full mask and everything just because you want everybody to be safe,” she told the Thompson Citizen in a Sept. 7 interview. “A lot of social media, visiting events, door knocking, putting up signs, handing out literature, phone calls.”
For Larocque, who grew up in Northern Manitoba, moved away and then returned six years ago, the change that occurred in the region during her absence wasn’t the kind the north needed.
“The north used to be very prosperous and thriving and it’s gone downhill,” she said. “You look at Leaf Rapids and Lynn Lake and those thriving towns are gone. There’s so many issues up here right now that need to be addressed at all levels of government and it’s time that we need positive change and we’re no longer forgotten.”
The fact that no one level of government can solve some problems points to the need for collaboration and consultation, the Conservative candidate says, pointing to addictions as one such area.
“You can’t just put someone in a drunk tank or in a sobering centre and then put them back in the same environment,” Larocque says. “We need to fix the whole, not just put a bandaid on it. That’s going to take all levels, like the individual, the community, Thompson as the hub, the province, the federal government. What will work best for the people themselves? You can’t just think what will work best from a federal view from people that have never had an addiction, never had to have 20 people in a house with no running water, have never had to worry where their next meal was coming from.”
In this riding, housing is a vital need, the candidate says, alongside economic development, which are included in the Conservative election platform.
“It specifically talks about Indigenous people and the north – having cleaner water, creating small businesses, micro-businesses so that people aren’t necessarily reliant, communities even aren’t as reliant, on funding. If there is a funding cut, then they’re self-sustaining.”
Nationally, Larocque says Canada needs to slay the deficit and clean up the image of politics.
“We are trying to build a very transparent honest team that cares and is working for the people, not the corruption and the lining of the pockets of our friends kind of thing and I have to give [Conservative leader] Erin O’Toole credit for that because he’s looking for real people that have experienced life, that aren’t career politicians.”
Larocque says she respects the efforts that incumbent Niki Ashton has made since first being elected as MP in 2008 but doesn’t feel the NDP reflects the values of the north.
“Because she hasn’t been in opposition or power she hasn’t really had a lot of time to speak on our issues,” she says. “[The NDP] have supported the Liberals for the last several years and voted against what the core of this region represents such as gun laws, animal rights in terms of hunting and fishing.”
If she is elected, Larocque says she will be a servant of her constituents.
“The position isn’t about me. I would work closely with the communities, with the people, the organizations, the businesses. I am their voice so I would have to work closely with them to figure out what is the most important for them and that is what I would be taking to the table. I don’t know everything. I know some things but the people know what they need and it’s got to be that bottom-up approach, not top-down approach. I would be their voice, working for them, helping them create ideas and solutions.”
The candidate also hopes that in the future anyone from the region who moves away like she did and comes back years later finds that things have gotten better.
“I just really hope, no matter what the outcome of this election, that this area is prosperous and thrives again,” Larocque says. “We’ve been forgotten for way too long and it’s time for positive change.”