Canadians are heading to the polls today to elect their next government in the country’s 44h general election and the focus in Churchill-Keewatinook Aski is whether incumbent NDP candidate Niki Ashton can carry the riding for the fifth consecutive election and extend her run as Member of Parliament that began in 2008.
Ashton was joined in Thompson Sept. 15 by Canadian Labour Congress president Bea Bruske for an evening of door-knocking and encouraging residents to vote, with help from other local unions.
“This campaign is about standing up for working people here in our region and across the country,” said Ashton, speaking at the United Steelworkers Local 6166 union hall. “It’s been a difficult number of years. Foreign ownership, austerity and privatization have meant the loss of good jobs in our communities, here in Thompson and across our north. A lot of wealth comes form this part of the country. It’s produced by the people that live here and yet so little of that wealth comes back. We need a federal government, an NDP government that stands up for good jobs in our north, that stands up for public services, whether it’s health care or child care, that are supported in our communities and that are looking towards the future, ensuring that good jobs are part of the transition to a better, greener economy for our region, for our country and for our world.”
Bruske said the NDP platform aligns includes things that the labour movement wants to see, like a national pharmacare program and investments in the transition toward a green economy and in communities and good-paying jobs.
“The Liberals have made promises over the last number of years that haven’t yet been kept and so we’re frustrated with that,” she said. “We’re optimistic that by returning many NDP MPs to the House of Commons that we’ll have a greater voice in making those things happen.”
Charlotte Larocque, the Conservative candidate in the riding, who, like Ashton, calls Thompson home, says Canadians and the residents of Northern Manitoba need more economic development and to balance the federal budget so that the economy grows and more people can find good jobs.
“You can choose to allow things to continue to decline or you can choose to vote for positive change and put a check mark beside Charlotte Larocque to secure the future,” she told the Thompson Citizen. “We deserve to be safe and protected. We deserve answers regarding the past We deserve true reconciliation. We deserve to be happy, healthy and full of pride and hope. We deserve more than empty promises, we deserve action. We need more than a seat, we need a voice that will be heard and that can secure the funding that we need. I let my name stand because I am that person. I want to work with (and for) the people, communities and organizations to generate prosperity, hope, pride and positive change for all the people in the region.”
Shirley Robinson, who has served Pimicikamak Cree Nation at Cross Lake as a band councillor, is seeking to become the third Indigenous Liberal MP for the riding over the last 30 years, following in the footsteps of Elijah Harper and Tina Keeper.
“Based on my visits throughout the region, it is clear our riding, rich in diversity, resources and opportunities, deserves better representation,” she said. “While the Liberal government was coming through for all of us with supports like vaccines and care packages, our current MP had other priorities, travelling overseas during travel restrictions, for example, while we were all busy looking after each other. After 13 years of ineffective representation, the time for change is here. Residents of Thompson, Flin Flon, The Pas and Churchill and all across the riding are calling for a change. They have felt abandoned by representative Ashton in the last few terms. The north may finally have power and influence in government where it counts, at the decision table. With your support on Monday, it is possible. If elected, I will do everything in my power to be the MP the north deserves. I look forward to bringing our issues straight to the government in Ottawa.”
Green party candidate Ralph McLean, who lives in The Pas and has run for MP in this riding once before and also in Alberta, says it’s up to voters what kind of representative they have in the next Parliament..
“Everyone should get out and vote,” he said. “If their heart is with the Conservatives, vote Conservative. If their heart is with the Liberals, vote Liberal. If their heart is with the NDP, vote NDP but if their heart is with the Greens, then they have a good heart. Lastly vote with the best interests of your children and grandchildren in mind. We need more Greens in the House of Commons fighting for a livable planet. This might be your last chance to do so.”
People’s Party of Canada candidate Dylan Young, also from The Pas, did not provide a further statement to the Citizen beyond the interview he did with the Citizen earlier in September.
Polls are open until 8:30 p.m.