A local business manager and community volunteer is stepping up to be part of the solution in the provincial election.
Nancy Cooke is running to become MLA for Fort Garry with the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.
The 52-year-old from St. Vital has previously run for elected office in the 2018 municipal election, putting her name forward as a candidate for city councillor in St. Norbert-Seine River, and in 2011 for school trustee in the Louis Riel School Division. Cooke currently manages Elm Park Dental, where her husband practises dentistry.
Cooke, a mother of two who grew up in Brandon, Man., and studied occupational therapy at the University of Manitoba, said she’s always had a desire to move the province forward and running for MLA was a path to make that happen.
"I’ve been involved in various community efforts, I was the chair of our parent council for over 10 years, was able to get a daycare in the school. I’ve been involved with a variety of charitable organizations, and I guess whenever I see something come up that’s causing people some issues, I want to help, and I believe in being part of the solution," Cooke said.
While Cooke doesn’t currently reside in Fort Garry, she has previously lived in the riding and has considered south Winnipeg her home for the past 20 years.
"I feel strongly about having strong provincial representation to look out for our community in terms of seniors, in terms of health care, in terms of all the issues that come up," she said.
"Winnipeg is a fabulous city and Manitoba is a great province, so being a street away from an arbitrary boundary doesn’t really impact how connected you feel to the community. So it feels like home, an extension of our neighbourhood."
Following the 2018 Electoral Boundaries Commission, the former riding of Fort Garry-Riverview was done away with and the new Fort Garry constituency was created. The new riding includes the neighbourhood of Earl Grey, north of Grant Avenue, parts of Grant Park, Beaumont, Wildwood, Maybank, Chevrier, and Southwood. In the past, most of the constituency was represented NDP MLA James Allum, who is not seeking reelection.
Cooke said voters in Fort Garry are contemplating a change to Progressive Conservative representation after two decades as a New Democratic base.
"At the doors I’m listening to what people are saying, and people realize in 2016, when they elected a PC government, they recognized that the province was headed in the wrong direction and we needed to change how we were approaching managing this province," Cooke said.
"I think we’re headed in the right direction. I like that path that we’re going down in terms of making life more affordable for Manitobans."
At the doors, Cooke said voters are concerned about health care and the changes to their local hospital with the conversion of the emergency room at Victoria Hospital to an urgent care centre, but are beginning to realize that calling an ambulance in an emergency scenario is an appropriate course of action.
"My concern for the people of Fort Garry is that, because of some of the messaging out there, they’re scared and think they don’t have an emergency option and that’s not the case. I’m trying to encourage people to know that there is absolutely emergency care here: you call an ambulance and they will take you where you need to go," she said.
Also running in Fort Garry are Mark Wasyliw (NDP), Craig Larkins (Liberal), and Casey Fennessy (Green), who did not respond to a request for an interview.
Danielle Da Silva