Recent severe weather conditions in south-central Manitoba have made travel difficult for the five candidates running for election in Morris as they go door-knocking throughout the riding.
The Headliner contacted each candidate to ask the following:
Q: What personal qualities do you feel you would bring to the position of MLA for
Jeremy Barber, Liberal Party candidate:
I feel I bring a contemporary approach to issues in Morris. My background in both the
environment and economics allows me to bring a non-partisan, balanced approach to environmental policy, and economic development. The riding of Morris is hungry for meaningful, sustainable development; I feel I’m uniquely qualified to assure that development is done properly.
Dean Harder, NDP candidate:
I am a strong networker, a hard worker, a creative thinker, and someone who cares deeply about the future of our constituency. As a small business owner and farmer, I am well aware of the importance of spending wisely and efficiently. As a director and organizer, I’ve dealt with many personalities which is crucial when working through challenges in a positive way. As an actor, public speaking and connecting with people is something I enjoy. My creative background helps me help others think outside the box which is important when exploring a vision for our province. Most important is my drive to represent the people for the benefit of the people which comes from my faith values and a history of support for
co-operative business structures.
Alain Landry, Green Party of Manitoba candidate:
Some of my greatest assets are that I am a good listener, a problem solver and a goal seeker. I am not afraid to look at a challenging issue and find an accommodating solution. As a high school teacher, I have been reaching out to families, solving social issues regularly. The best solution to avoid problems is with a stable economy for all households and a healthy way of life. The Green Party’s interests are centred towards clean air, clean water and a healthy food choice.
Shannon Martin, Progressive Conservative Party candidate:
I believe I represent the coming generational change that we will see in the political landscape over the next several years. As one of the only candidates who lives in the constituency, I have a personal interest in seeing it represented by someone who has the vested interest that comes with residence. As a father of three young children, I know all too well the challenges facing our education system as well as the financial pressures parents face as a result of the NDP’s decisions to regularly increase taxes like the PST. My work in running a major not-for-profit has taught me the importance of fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency.
Ray Shaw, Independent candidate:
Age, experience, and the fact that I do not represent any particular political party, but only the constituents of Morris. I am an accountant/real estate broker. Being a successful business person, I have learned to work with any and all parties to get the job done. Currently the NDP Party will require my vote. The Morris constituency was well-served by the last four independent members.
Q: What are the two biggest issues facing the constituents of Morris and how would you address them as MLA?
Infrastructure to combat flooding — the riding has always struggled with flooding, much of which is due to a lack of investment in infrastructure. By developing a plan for comprehensive flood management, we can work with farmers, community leaders, and government to mitigate flood damage, without drastically increasing infrastructure investment. We need proactive pre-emptive measures like flood-proofing Highway 75, which should have been done over a decade ago.
(The second is) lack of opportunity/job export — There aren’t nearly enough opportunities for young adults in the riding. For most young people in the riding, pursuing a high standard of living means leaving the riding, and, in many cases, leaving the province. An emphasis should be placed on developing progressive industries in the riding.
Growth and infrastructure — the Morris constituency has many growing communities, and with that growth comes the need to ensure continued investments in proper infrastructure, for highways and bridges, municipal roads, and clean water like drinking water and sewage treatment to keep our economy growing. We also need to keep supporting our young people in these growing communities to get quality education and training opportunities so they can get good jobs here in Manitoba, and at home in the Morris constituency.
Flood protection — our constituency sits on the flood plains of two major rivers. Climate change is real, which makes the potential of continued flooding that much more uncertain. We need a government that will work to make sure citizens’ homes and businesses are better protected when the next flood happens. As a candidate, I am encouraged by the NDP government’s plan to dedicate over $215 million to develop Highway 75 so that a solid trade corridor can stay operational during flood seasons.
I’ve been researching local organic farming in the constituency and I found them to be numerous and varied in their produce. On that issue, I would certainly encourage government to pass bills that would guarantee subsidies to these farms and that local produce is always available.
The second issue is the small investments that have been funded towards this industry. Investing in these resources means investing in a large number of provincial economies, such as health care, natural resources and even education. It is important that neighbourhoods have direct access to their needs for immediate consumption.
The No. 1 issue that comes up at every door, whether in Morris, Elie or Niverville, is the NDP’s decision to break their election promise and hike the PST, along with their refusal to abide by the law and hold a referendum. Family after family is telling me that their paycheques are not keeping pace with the increased taxes imposed by the NDP and it’s a source of major stress in their lives.
The second issue is fiscal management. People are frustrated that, despite increasing taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, the NDP continue to post deficits year after year.
All of us vote Conservative. This is a Conservative area. No matter what the party does, we vote Conservative. No matter who the party decides to represent us, "We vote Conservative." If the road we are on is not accomplishing what we want — change roads. It is time for a change.
(Governments being) above the law: (an example is the) sales tax increase. If the
Opposition (Conservatives) are right that the NDP broke the law in the method they used, why should governments be above the law? Once again, as a taxpayer, I feel like roadkill.
Q: What have you learned from constituents during your campaign?
The overwhelming sentiment throughout the campaign trail is one of frustration. The constituents of Morris are frustrated with their representation. They’re tired of the status quo in Manitoba politics, and they’re tired of being over-promised and under-represented. While a great deal of frustration is directed towards the NDP, and rightfully so, a growing amount of frustration is beginning to be directed towards the Conservatives as voters are beginning to understand that the Conservatives represent the status quo in the riding of Morris, as much if not more, than the NDP.
I continue to learn something new every day. We have some of the kindest citizens you will ever meet, with some really great ideas for making our great prairie constituency even better. I’ve met a nurse who explained to me that we are still dealing with the ramifications of the cuts the PC’s made in the ’90s, and I’ve learned from some of our seniors that they care deeply that they’ll be able to continue to afford their medicine. We can’t just leave them to fend for themselves. Throughout Morris, there are strong groups of citizens that are passionate about the future of their communities and they continue to inspire me.
I’ve learned that many of the constituents are listening and they agree; they want to see change. They understand the problems that we face in the future regarding health issues. They are willing to make the decision that will bring change to protect our natural systems.
I have learned that you cannot beat campaigning in rural Manitoba. Whether visiting the colonies north of St. Eustache, talking to farmers in Starbuck, visiting seniors at Heartland Estates in Headingley or talking to business owners in Oak Bluff, the people are incredibly friendly. It was especially welcomed during those bitterly cold days the first few weeks campaigning when voters would welcome you into their homes to warm up and have a coffee.
It has been extremely interesting. One of the old constituents proudly stated "I am a Conservative." I asked him, "What has that meant to you; what have they done for the Morris constituency?" He had no answer. I then said, "Are you happy with the hundreds of millions spent almost annually on flooding? Are you happy with the sale tax increase?" It’s time for a change.