Former MLA Judy Klassen, who is now seeking to become the next Churchill-Keewatinook Aski Member of Parliament as the Liberals’ candidate, held a meet-and-greet at the official opening of her campaign office on Selkirk Avenue in Thompson Oct. 6.
Those in attendance included Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Chief Marcel Moody and Keewatin Tribal Council CEO George Neepin, as well as Winnipeg South Centre Liberal candidate Jim Carr, among others.
Klassen said she’s recently been to Norway House, Cross Lake, Flin Flon and The Pas and that she was hearing residents ‘ concerns about timely access to health care, the shortage of housing in many communities, as well as the need for job creation and economic development.
“They see this place as a great place for opportunity and we’ve just got to make sure that message is carried across that Thompson and, similarly in other areas across the north, that we’re seeing a boom and it’s largely because of the investments of the Trudeau government,” Klassen said.
In response to NDP candidate Niki Ashton’s accusations that the Liberals have failed Northern Manitoba and its Indigenous residents, Carr said the Liberals made progress in their first term through investing in the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay Railway as well as in building new housing and eliminating some boil-water advisories, though much work remains to be done.
“The road to reconciliation is long and can be difficult but we’ve made further progress and talked to the chiefs about that," Carr said. "I believe that in the first term we’ve made huge strides but we have much more work to do and that’s why I believe it’s so important to have Judy as a colleague of mine in the House of Commons and to join our government so that she can be the voice for Northern Manitoba in the Parliament of Canada. Because of all her relationships in communities she is perfectly positioned to use that voice effectively for the north with all of the potential that the north has.”
Klassen said she was well-prepared for a debate being held Oct. 8 in Churchill in which she and Ashton are the only candidates participating.
“It’s not daunting to me because I’ve actually gone to a lot of houses where they’ve said that current representation hasn’t come to their doors so she might be in the dark whereas I’m not so I’m quite excited to go there and speak truthfully and not do this misdirection,” Klassen said. “There is a lot of optimism out here in the north and it’s quite exciting and we need to make sure that’s the kind of message that comes across in hopes that our north will be invested in. It’s critical that our north be invested in.”
The Liberal candidate also said that while she currently lives in Steinbach with her husband, her goal is to retire in her home community of St. Theresa Point eventually.
“I did have a home when I left and I gave it to two of my cousins,” she said. “There’s a critical shortage of housing over there and they divided the home in half and each has four, five, six kids and I just can’t take my home back from my nieces and nephews. That’s my home and that’ s where I grew up and that’s where I intend to retire to my trapline, but not for awhile.”
Klassen says she feels her campaign is going well but that she won’t be relaxing until after votes are counted on election night Oct. 21.
“I always say I won’t count on anything until midnight of the 21st but I’m quite excited,” she said.