The day after seeing her long-time constituency assistant Danielle Adams elected as the first female MLA for Thompson in Manitoba’s provincial election, Churchill-Keewatinook Aski NDP candidate Niki Ashton was launching her own campaign as she seeks a fourth term in the House of Commons.
“This campaign is a very important one for our north and our country,” Ashton said Sept. 11 outside of the Thompson post office on Selkirk Avenue. “It is about holding to account a prime minister who has broken many promises to First Nations and northern communities. In this election, the NDP are going to be offering a real alternative, a new deal for our north and I am committing to continuing to be a strong voice and offer a clear choice when it comes to representing our north. As I’ve travelled over the last few years and especially over the recent months I have heard time and time again that northern people, that First Nations, that Métis communities, that northern communities feel let down, even feel betrayed by the broken promises of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government.”
Ashton said Trudeau’s promise in 2015 to reduce the number of boil-water advisories in First Nations ignores the fact that some Indigenous communities aren’t even on the list of affected communities.
“In our north, there are communities like Garden Hill, one of the largest remote First Nations, that’s not even on the list of boil water advisories and yet people have to boil their water and that has everything to do with the lack of investment in infrastructure. So many Canadians living off reserve take for granted that clean water that we have. It’s unacceptable that this situation still exists in First Nations.”
She also said the NDP would be focusing on the environment in the campaign leading up to the Oct. 21 federal election.
“The north and the west as well are seeing the impacts of climate change in a bigger way. It impacts the winter road system. It’s impacted infrastructure across our north. We have a prime minster who’s talked a good talk on climate change but has done virtually the same thing as [former Conservative prime minister] Stephen Harper. We need to take on one of the biggest challenges of our time in a serious way and in a way that makes sure northern people aren’t pushed to the side. Tackling climate change also creates opportunities for good jobs in our north.”
Ashton’s campaign really kicked off late Sept. 10 in Adams’s campaign headquarters, once it became clear the NDP had recaptured the Thompson electoral division formerly represented by Ashton’s father Steve for 35 years from 1981 to 2016.
“Justin Trudeau is calling the federal election tomorrow morning.,” Ashton told Adams supporters. “It’s a 41-day election, a bit longer than anticipated and it won’t be a walk in the park. We do not stand for the right wing politics of Brian Pallister or, frankly, Justin Trudeau. We stand up for us. We stand strong. We stand for things that matter to us like health care and education and that applies just as much provincially as it does federally. We’re going to bring it home on Oct. 21.”
.Adams also expressed her support for her longtime boss.
“There’s another election going to be called tomorrow,” Thompson’s next MLA said in her victory speech. “Let’s do exactly the same thing for Niki Ashton. We want to repeat this result. We need to make sure Niki gets elected and send her back to Ottawa.”
338Canada.com, which projects election results based on polls, demographic data and election history, said Sept. 10 that the Churchill-Keewatinook Aski race will be a five-way contest between Ashton, Liberal Judy Klassen, Conservative Cyara Bird, Green candidate Ralph McLean and People’s Party of Canada candidate Kenneth Klyne. It projected the Liberal party to win nearly 38 per cent of the popular vote and Ashton 36.3 per cent, though the margin of error of about eight percentage points for both those projections means they could actually range from a low of around 30 per cent to a high of around 45 per cent. The Conservatives were projected to capture less than 20 per cent of the riding’s votes. On Sept. 10, 338Canada said the Liberals had a 58 per cent chance of winning the riding and the NDP 42 per cent.
Ashton said she was taking her campaign on the road to Cross Lake Sept. 12 and Norway House Sept. 13 before returning to Thompson for the official launch of her campaign Sept. 15.
“I am ready to hit the ground running,” she said Sept. 11. “It was really important to me that the morning of the national call I make an announcement here in our home community. I’m really energized by the result from last night and I think it really speaks to the strong message that the north is sending that the NDP fights for us and that we are going to take a stand against governments that aren’t on our side. I’m looking forward to working with a strong northern team visiting non-stop and continuing the fight for our north.”