‘It would keep qualified doctors here if they had a better facility:’ Green candidate Meagan Jemmett

The Green Party of Manitoba candidate for the Thompson electoral division is Meagan Jemmett, who grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and attended the University of Alberta and then law school at the University of Toronto. She is currently working as a partner at Jemmett Jack Barristers & Solicitors.

How long have you been living in Thompson?

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It’ll be three years in January

What do you do for a living?

I came here for work. I wanted to do criminal defence law. I found an opportunity in Thompson that offered me that.

If elected, what are the biggest issues that you want to tackle in the upcoming term?

Health care is in a huge crisis and I’m a Green candidate so I have to talk about the climate emergency and I think there’s opportunity there to address those two problems together, especially in Thompson. Our health care infrastructure here, it’s in really bad shape. We’ve got our operating rooms now closed because of problems with the facility. If we had a provincial government that was serious about investing in the north and serious about taking appropriate steps to combat climate change, we could do a lot to reduce our emissions. If we build a hospital with quality services, people could come here instead of going all the way down to Winnipeg to get even fairly basic tests done. That saves on transportation costs to get those people to Winnipeg, saves on emissions to get them there. If we build a new facility that’s energy-efficient and that’s appropriate for the weather and the realities of Thompson, that’s a major investment. It would help keep qualified doctors here if they had a better facility to work out of and there was more that they could do in the community. It would obviously create jobs building such a facility and it would help keep people here. So many people in Thompson have had to leave because they have a chronic health condition, which means that they can’t live here anymore, sometimes in the community where they spent all their lives. That’s terrible and that shouldn’t be happening.

How do you plan on representing northern interest in the Manitoba legislature?

Every election season it seems that the major parties … send their leader up north for an appearance and they talk about all these great things they’re going to do for us and then when that party gets into power they suddenly discover that the previous party has left it in  such poor financial shape they can’t possibly do all these initiatives. The money and the votes are in Winnipeg. So even an MLA from Thompson isn’t really going to be allowed to push northern interests. The Greens don’t do that. As long as you stick to the basic principles of the Green Party you can advocate for your electoral division as much as you want

Why should someone vote for you over one of the other candidates?

I vote Green knowing full well that they’re probably not going to win. It sends a signal to the major political parties. If you vote for a candidate that has little chance of winning … it encourages major parties to rethink their approach. If Green ideas are taking away votes from the major parties those major parties are going to look at Green ideas and look at ways of adopting those ideas into their own platforms.

What’s the most difficult thing about campaigning?

It’s completely outside of my comfort zone. That said, it involves a similar skill set to what I do now. It’s all about advocacy. I’ve never done this before, but I’ve been so grateful for the reception that I’ve gotten. Even going door to door people are so nice, so courteous and excited about not just having the usual two candidates to choose from.

Anything else you want to add?

I voted for the Green Party for the last several elections. I suppose I’d seen a lot more news about the climate crisis and I was feeling helpless. I was disappointed in the major political parties’ approaches to it. They’re not taking it seriously enough. Their policies are not going to stop what’s happening to our climate so I joined the Green Party.

Thompson residents will get the chance to see Jemmett, NDP candidate Danielle Adams and PC candidate Kelly Bindle face off in person during a Sept. 4 candidates’ forum from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre. Advance voting continues until Sept. 5 and election day is Sept. 10.

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