By Greg Nikkel and David Willberg
The close of nominations for the federal election was on Monday, and six candidates were listed by Elections Canada for the riding of Souris-Moose Mountain.
The candidates include incumbent Dr. Robert Kitchen of the Conservative Party; Travis Patron, Canadian Nationalist Party; Phillip Zajac of the People’s Party of Canada; Javin Ames-Sinclair, Liberal Party; Ashlee Hicks, NDP, and Judy Mergel, Green Party.
The Weyburn Chamber of Commerce will be hosting an all-candidates forum on Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 7-9 p.m. at the Weyburn Legion Hall.
The incumbent spent some time campaigning in Weyburn on Saturday, after making stops recently in many locations around the riding. He was present for the reopening of the Legion Hall, the Culture Days activities at Knox Hall, and in the evening he took in the Red Wings game.
“We’ve been all over the riding, from Rocanville to Coronach,” he said, noting he was also in Ogema, Pangman and Khedive recently. “We’ve been meeting with farmers and with businesses, and talking about the big challenges they’re trying to deal with, and I’ve been meeting with people in Weyburn and Estevan who also have issues. A lot of what I’m hearing is a lot of disgust with the present government, and they want to see a change, and see a change come quickly.”
Kitchen noted that for producers, they were already facing some real challenges, such as difficulties in marketing canola and durum due to trade issues, on top of the challenge they are facing getting harvest off with rain and wet snow coming through the area.
The Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, recently announced their plans for an energy corridor, an idea that was promoted at the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show in June, and has been talked about a lot since then.
Kitchen noted this would be good not just for oil workers and businesses in this riding, but for all aspects of the Canadian economy as it creates jobs and helps the movement of services and commodities across Canada.
“I’ve been hearing lots of comments on that,” he said, noting the energy sector is critical to the economy, yet the Liberal government has not built one metre of pipeline in their four years in office, even though they bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
People’s Party candidate Zajac was also in Weyburn recently, meeting with local supporters as they met people and put signs up around the area.
One of his supporters, Weyburn resident Andrew Shanaida, said the People’s Party “stands for a lot of beliefs that I stand for. I think the country needs to change, and they aren’t part of the establishment, it’s people for the people.”
Zajac said his party is the only one that would completely eradicate the carbon tax, and not just relabel it as the Conservatives would do.
He added they will also make the first $15,000 earned by all Canadians to be tax-free, and reduce the number of immigrants into Canada, including stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.
Patron has been out doing door-knocking, so far mainly in the eastern part of the riding in towns like Carlyle, Carnduff, Maryfield and Stoughton, and he has found that he is having to counter misinformation that has been put out in some media reports.
“People are looking for something more conservative than the existing Conservative party,” he said, adding that the Nationalist party has been portrayed by some media as a white nationalist party, which is not the case.
“We are not white nationalist, we are Canadian nationalist. We welcome multiple ethnicities. I can say we represent Canadian federalism,” he said, adding people he talks to are interested in the party, but have been put off by these media reports.
Patron put up a portable billboard in Weyburn that stated his party is against censorship of billboards, and explained this is a parody of what happened with the People’s Party billboards which were taken down in major centres where they were put up.
“This is a litmus test of the freedom of expression. We as Canadians have freedom of expression, even when it’s not in line with political correctness,” said Patron.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Liberal Party revealed their candidates late last week. Ashlee Hicks, a member of the Cowessess First Nation who used to live in Broadview but now resides in Saskatoon, will be the NDP candidate.
Hicks said she decided to run because there are a lot of people who might be more likely to vote if the NDP had a candidate that they knew.
“I feel like me being from the riding is probably very beneficial … if you want to connect with the people who live in the riding,” said Hicks.
She believes some rural residents don’t feel like they’re important. Some people running family farms are having a hard time making ends meet, but she believes there are other issues in the riding besides agriculture.
“As a kid, I did feel like politics did not mean anything to us out there. It never really seemed to make a difference who got in or who got in for the rest of us,” she said. “Everything stayed the same.”
She still returns to the constituency often, as her family still resides in Souris-Moose Mountain.
While she believes it will take a lot of hard work to win the riding in this election, and she wants to get out and talk to people, she’s not sure how much she will be able to in the remaining weeks of the campaign, since she lives several hours away.
She plans to attend at least one of the candidates’ forums, and do some door-knocking during the Thanksgiving long weekend.
This is not the first time she has run for the NDP in an election. She was a candidate for the party in the 2016 provincial election in the Moosomin constituency. She finished second behind Steven Bonk.
“I won’t be so nervous. It was my first time running, so I had no feel for the area or anything like that. I haven’t lived in a rural setting for a while, so I thought it would be very neat to go out and connect with some rural residents.”
The Liberal Party’s candidate in Souris-Moose Mountain for the upcoming federal election is a student currently enrolled at the University of Regina.
Javin Ames-Sinclair is a member of the Zagime Anishinabek, formally known as Sakimay First Nation. He is currently attending the university’s Campion College and majors in psychology.
Born and raised in Regina, Ames-Sinclair’s mother is of English and Irish ancestry and his father is a member of the Zagime Anishinabek.
“The involvement of both cultures for Javin has taught him very well on how to treat others and live a very mindful life which is one of respect, love and kindness with all people,” his bio states.
He says he is a Liberal because of their commitment to the following issues: Indigenous self-government, climate change and a strong global presence, which was one of their policy statements.
Ames-Sinclair is an active volunteer in his community and is involved with the multicultural dance group for the Spring Free from Racism group. He has worked on several campaigns at the federal, provincial and Indigenous levels of government
Wood Mountain resident Judy Mergel will represent the Green Party of Canada in the riding of Souris-Moose Mountain.
Previously a Green candidate for the Wood River constituency in the last Saskatchewan election, Mergel was inspired to do more after hearing Elizabeth May speak at the University of Regina this past spring.
Mergel noted that although the Party is universally equated with the environment, their platform addresses much more and can be viewed at www.greenparty.ca once it’s launched.
She said the Greens don’t generally fare well at the ballot box in oil and gas country, but pointed out the Greens believe in a gradual transition to renewable energy and will support large-scale re-training.
“The Greens are a unique grassroots organization that I’m proud to be part of. Our vision for Canada promises a future where no one will be left out or left behind,” said Mergel.
The main office for Elections Canada in Souris-Moose Mountain will be at the City Centre Mall, and the returning officer is Margaret Tuchscherer. Additional offices are located in Estevan and Whitewood.
The hours for the Elections Canada office in Weyburn is 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 on Saturdays, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Election day is on Monday, Oct. 21, and advance polls will be held on Oct. 11-14, all at McKenna Auditorium. The hours for voting in the advance poll go from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on voting day from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Voters can also cast their ballot in any Elections Canada office in Canada any time before 6 p.m. on Oct. 15. If voting by mail, voters need to apply no later than 6 p.m. on Oct. 15.
On voting day, or at one of the advance polls, voters can show their identification to vote, with three options provided by Elections Canada, listed on their website.
The first option is to have a driver’s licence and any card issued by a Canadian government with photo, name and current address.
The second option is to show two pieces of ID, which both must have the name and current address. These can include the voter information card and bank statement, utility bill or student ID card.
If a person doesn’t these pieces of ID, they can vote if they can declare their name and address in writing, and can have a person assigned to the polling station vouch for them. The voucher must be able to prove their identity and address.
A list of acceptable ID is also available from Elections Canada, and are available on the Elections Canada website.