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This article was published 18/8/2015 (1615 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Incumbent Winnipeg Centre candidate Pat Martin hopes to hold onto his position in federal politics for the seventh straight term.
First elected in 1997, the NDP Member of Parliament is currently setting up his campaign office at 888 Portage Ave.
"The campaign is off to a slow start. The public doesn’t seem to be engaged yet, so it gives us the luxury of time to do the necessary behind-the-scenes stuff like putting furniture into the office and getting some signs up on our exterior," Martin said.
"We’re finding that people are following the party leaders’ campaigns but they’re not too engaged on the ground yet, although I’ve been pleased by the outpouring of support and request for signs coming in through our phone lines. That bodes well."
If re-elected, Martin said he would fight for a new core area initiative program in addition to any other infrastructure programs such as the Building Canada Fund.
"It would be something separate and distinct, and the first element of that would be this new commitment to the gas tax transfer made by the NDP," he said.
"I’m pleased that our national leader has spoken about increasing the gas tax transfer to municipalities."
The inner city of Winnipeg has been stagnating, he said, and there is a desperate need to focus on the area.
"We should have a moratorium on new subdivisions and create the demand and the interest in revitalizing the inner city," Martin said.
"I hardly recognize Winnipeg when I ride my bike out in any direction with the new subdivisions popping up and new recreation centres and beautiful streets and curbs. And then I try to drive through my own inner-city streets and it’s like I’ve seen better wagon trails."
Martin is also advocating to relocate the train tracks and CPR marshalling yards that divide north and south Winnipeg.
"We believe that would be a transformative change to the inner city of Winnipeg to tear up the tracks and reroute them around the outside of the city and use that land for green space, recreation and inner-city housing," he said.
"That will be a key priority should I become the political minister for the province of Manitoba."
During his decades as an MP, Martin is proud of bringing federal dollars to the city.
"In the last term of office from 2011, we added up $142 million of spending in my riding of Winnipeg Centre. Even as an opposition MP, I had the 14th highest federal spending of any riding in the country," he said.
"I’m proud that I’ve been able to do that from the opposition benches and I’m looking forward to doing it even better from the government bench. I’m asking Winnipeg voters to put their confidence in me one more time."
When he’s not busy on the campaign trail, Martin has returned to a former artistic endeavour — taking banjo lessons.
"It’s the happiest instrument in the world. You cannot fail to be happy when you’re playing the banjo, so I adopted it as a side pursuit to keep some diversity in my life. I picked up the banjo when I was 20 years old and played it for a couple years and then set it aside. I decided now is the time to get back to it and learn how to do it properly," he said.
"Politics is adversarial. It’s not healthy to be fighting at that level of intensity all the time, so I make sure I carve out some time for arts and culture and music and all the good things that Winnipeg has to offer."