Sitting bedside at Concordia Hospital one year ago, supporting his mother through the final days of a vicious cancer battle, Craig Larkins decided something had to change.
Larkins, 39, is running for MLA in Fort Garry with the Manitoba Liberal Party. The former broadcaster and journalist who grew up in Transcona said it was during his mom’s hospice care that he decided to put his name on a ballot for the first time.
"Day and night, I literally witnessed the dismantling of Concordia Hospital," Larkins said, adding he sometimes stepped in to change sheets or move pillows when nurses couldn’t attend to his mom. "I talked to nurses and heard about how exhausted they were, and saw them there just as long as I was there."
"My mom had always pushed me to go and run," he said. "One night in the hospital before she started getting really bad, during her last week, we were sitting there and she asked me if I was going to run.
"It really pushed me to do it because of my experience."
Larkins worked in media for about 15 years, attending school at Robertson College and Mississippi State University, and spent time in news and weather reporting before accepting a communications position with the Manitoba Liberal Party in 2016, taking over the role of director of communications for the Liberal caucus in 2017.
"I was no stranger to covering elections in Manitoba, so I always kind of had my hand in the jar I guess you could say," Larkins said. "Aside from working for them (the MLP), it’s the values and such, and policy, and just the people that we had, our current slate of MLAs, that really tie me to the party."
Larkins said the election of conservative governments provincially, in Ontario and Alberta, also prompted him to put his name forward for public office.
"I feel like we need a lot more people out there fighting the good fight, and I feel like we have a lot of conservative governments out there that aren’t," he said.
"When we’re talking about gay-straight alliances in Alberta, I know it’s a different province, but the fact that this is still a conversation to me is shocking."
Larkins has lived in south Fort Rouge for the past few years, although with the redistribution of the constituency as part of the 2018 Electoral Boundaries Commission, his home no longer falls in the riding.
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 by NDP MLA James Allum, who is not seeking reelection.
If elected, Larkins said he’d like to spend his time as MLA working on policy related to climate change and environmental action, noting he was part of the team that authored the MLP "Plan for Green Growth and Renewal."
"I think the current government is ignoring a giant ticking clock that is climate change and I want to jump on and get started, get rolling and start fighting for our planet."
Also running in Fort Garry are PC candidate Nancy Cooke, NDP candidate Mark Wasyliw, and Green Party of Manitoba candidate Casey Fennessy, who did not respond to a request for an interview.
Danielle Da Silva