The Progressive Conservative candidate in the June 7 byelection to choose Danielle Adams’s successor believes that more can be accomplished from within the corridors of power than by pushing from the outside.
“My grandma just turned 100 a few weeks ago and she still always says, ‘It’s easier to get flies with honey than it is with vinegar,’” Charlotte Larocque told the Thompson Citizen May 19. “Are we going to have somebody sitting at that table that actually makes decisions, the people in power? Or are we going to be in opposition, fighting against them? To me, it just makes more sense to have somebody at that table so that our voice is heard loudly.”
A former president of the Thompson Chamber of Commerce who ran against NDP MP Niki Ashton for Northern Manitoba’s Churchill-Keewatinook Aski seat in the September 2021 federal election, Larocque says the province and other levels of government need to do more to make the north fertile ground for economic growth.
“I decided to run because I still firmly believe that this region has a lot to offer,” she said. “We can bring that prosperity and development to the north and revive it the way it was, make it vibrant again. We used to be one of the major contributors to the GDP and in the last few decades that has decreased immensely. ”
Though she envisions a future for Northern Manitoba that resembles the more prosperous past she remembers from growing up in the region, the candidate also recognizes that things need to be done differently than they used to be. Larocque points to Lynn Lake mining project proponents working cooperatively with all the stakeholders to try to ensure a positive outcome, rather than dictating terms, as the right approach. “They’ve partnered with the town, they’ve partnered with different departments of the government, they are with the First Nation community so that everything is done correctly. There’s no harm to the land and it’s actually helping the people. It’s not just the big company that’s making money, the towns are going to prosper too. To me, that’s what needs to happen.”
Due to the decline and neglect of the region, however, Larocque says there is a lot of work to be done in many areas to provide the north with a strong foundation so that it can flourish,
“We need great health care,” she said. “We deserve to have great education and safe schools. We deserve to have good roads. We need that economic development, in terms of creating more businesses, more jobs, training for the people, so that we can have a higher standard of living.”
Though she would only be one of three dozen PC MLAs if elected, the candidate thinks there is already evidence that she could convince the government to do more for the Thompson riding and the north as a while.
“All the announcements and everything that has been made lately, those are a good start,” Larocque says. “We need to continue that momentum and expand on it. Quite a fe of the MLAs have been coming up lately. Coming up here and seeing, they’re able to take that back to their other cohorts and we’re not just in a pile of paper anymore. They’re actually paying attention, realizing that the region was lucrative for the rest of the province and the rest of the country and we do need the funding and services.”
Larocque sees the MLA’s role as a conduit between the people in the riding and anyone they have to deal with, saying that one of her priorities would be to talk to insurance companies to try to ensure that homes and businesses in the north can obtain the insurance they need. And she wouldn’t draw any distinctions between her constituents.
“You have to know what all the people, not just specific people, are thinking,” she says. “You have to talk to everybody, whether you necessarily agree with them or not. That’s the role of this position, to get all the voices heard.”
Larocque has plans to visit Gillam and Churchill next week and other communities in the electoral division after that. Her team is making phone calls to voters in the riding to ask about their concerns and whether she can count on their support.
“[The byelection result] is not going to change the government,” Larocque points out, “but if we can align with the party in power and be a voice at the decision-making table, it’s going to make a lot of difference.”