After two days on the road to begin the 2019 federal election, NDP candidate Niki Ashton was back in Thompson Sept. 15 to officially open her campaign office and raise a little more money to cover expenses as she seeks re-election as Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP on election day Oct. 21.
“This is a very important election and we’ve got major issues to take on, issues like health care, a huge issue in our north, whether it’s people sitting here in the emergency room for hours, people who are falling through the cracks because of the way they’re being treated by medical services, people that are in communities like the Island Lake region of 14,000 people that don’t have a hospital but should have one,” said Ashton. ”Housing insecurity, as we all know, is a huge issue in our north. Whether it’s affordability and accessibility here in Thompson, whether it’s the sheer lack of housing and the Third World living conditions that exist in First Nations, housing needs to be fought for. It’s been a stressful time, a difficult time, for our community, for people across the north who are looking at getting education, looking for employment. We need to make sure that there are good jobs in our community. These are the kind of things that I believe we must continue to fight for.”
The Thompson born and raised NDP candidate, who represented the Churchill riding for seven years before it became Churchill-Keewatinook Aski in 2015, said she heard during two days of door-knocking in Norway House and Cross Lake about dissatisfaction with the federal government over the past four years.
“I hear from a number of people about their disappointment with [Justin] Trudeau, including people that voted Liberal in the last election that felt that he’s let First Nations in particular and our north down,” Ashton said. “Who remembers four years ago the nice words we heard from Justin Trudeau? He talked about reconciliation, he talked about nation-to-nation relations, he talked about defending Indigenous rights, he talked about defending the middle class. Well, on all those scores Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government have broken their promises time and time again. What I’m hearing from many people is that Justin Trudeau isn’t part of he solution. He has been part of the problem. And so this election is about saying that we will not stand for the politics of nice words. We are going to fight back and we are going to demand better for Indigenous communities, for First Nations, for Métis communities and for our north.”
Third-generation NDP supporter Anne Bee said that while volunteering for NDP MLA-elect Danielle Adams’s election campaign, she heard from a lot of people who are 30 years old and have never voted before.
“We all have a right to be here and we all have a right to vote,” Bee said. “I identify myself as Indigenous and I encourage everybody to come out and vote.”
Bee also said that Ashton has a proven track record of advocating for Northern Manitoba.
“She’s been working hard for the last 10 years and will continue and we need her strong voice in the north,” said Bee.
Supporters at the campaign office launch raised $2,000 for Ashton in the space of a few minutes, money that she says will be needed to get to as many of the riding’s 70 communities as possible, including Churchill, where the Public Service Alliance of Canada is organizing an all-candidates forum, probably in early October.
“I welcome any opportunity to both present our platform, the NDP’s platform for our north, our country but also to get into discussions with the other candidates. Where do they stand on the issues? Where have they stood on the issues? Last election we didn’t have any candidates’ forums despite the fact that I certainly expressed a willingness. I hope there are opportunities for people in our north to hear from all of us.”
Ashton also said that hearing voters’ concerns is the key to representing them well.
“That’s how I believe that we should be represented is by connecting with people directly, by hearing the issues directly from people at their doorstep and bringing them forward and fighting for them at the national level.”