With less than three weeks to go before voters head to the polls, Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew arrived in Thompson Aug. 24 to rally the troops and talk about the party’s northern platform.
This brief meet-and-greet took place at the campaign headquarters of Danielle Adams, the Thompson NDP candidate gunning for the legislature seat of Progressive Conservative incumbent Kelly Bindle.
The three main pillars of the NDP’s northern strategy involve securing health care, good jobs and an affordable quality of life, which have been suffering for the last three years under the leadership of PC leader Brian Pallister, Kinew said.
The NDP leader promised to invest $3 million into the Thompson General Hospital if elected.
“We want to make sure the operating rooms that are currently closed get back up and running, and that they’re not fixed to 1960s spec,” Kinew said. “That they’re actually built to the standards of today with cutting-edge equipment, so that when you need to get an operation here you will be taken care of with the best quality health care possible.”
Kinew also said the NDP are committed to restoring Lifeflight and the Northern Patient Teansportation Program to make sure that residents from remote communities get the care they need.
In terms of infrastructure, Kinew said the party is dedicated to fixing parts of Highway 391, including the road to Nelson House.
“What’s going to set us apart from Mr. Pallister is that when we do invest that money into a construction project we’re going to put the agreements in place to make sure that the jobs for Manitoba projects go to Manitobans,” he said. “That way people here are making a good income and they spend the money in town, pay the taxes in town and the money stays here in the local economy.”
Another element that is going to set the NDP apart from the Progressive Conservatives is their support of the mining industry, Kinew said.
Even though Pallister recently said his government will establish a $20 million mineral development fund if re-elected, the NDP leader thinks the existing Mining Community Reserve Fund (MCRF) can help create jobs and cushion the recent downturn in the Thompson mining sector all by itself.
Over the last couple of years, Pallister’s government has denied communities like Thompson access to the MCRF, saying that they can’t distribute the money if the fund falls below a $10 million threshold.
“We know that right now there’s more than $11 million in that fund and it’s just sitting there,” Kinew said Saturday. “It’s not being used, even though there is a lot of families and communities who are on hard times right now because of the downturn in the mining industry.”
Kinew also sought to dispel rumours that there is any tension between him and fellow NDP candidates like Adams, whom the PCs characterize as a long-time Steve Ashton loyalist.
“We have a really strong team and the momentum is starting to go our way in this election, so it’s no surprise that the Tories are trying to desperately throw some shade,” he said. “But I just want to remind folks that this election isn’t about me or Mr. Pallister. This election is about the people of Manitoba and who is going to fix their healthcare and who is going to create good jobs for them.”
Following the rally in Thompson, Kinew and Adams travelled to Nelson House Saturday afternoon to attend a powwow.
Election day is slated for Sept. 10, but advance voting will be available in Thompson from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5 at the returning office on Selkirk Drive and in the City Centre Mall.
A public debate between all Thompson candidates will take place Sept. 4 at the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.