Souris-Moose Mountain: Local candidates on the election so far

September 16, 2021, 10:34 am

Greg Douglas and Dr. Robert Kitchen

We touched base with some of the local candidates last week to see how the election is going so far. Following are some of the interviews.

Robert Kitchen, Conservative, Souris-Moose Mountain
How is the campaign going so far?
Good. It’s going very well. We’ve been out and about. We’re definitely getting out as much as we can into various events and meeting with constituents, door knocking.

Yesterday we were door knocking in Francis, Sedley and Fillmore. And then on Monday I was up in Whitewood and Langbank.

We’ve got our plan so that when we’re working out we don’t want to tell our competition where we might be. So we’re getting out and trying to get to every community I can in the riding at least once.

What sort of things are you hearing out there?
Well, I’m hearing number one from a lot of the constituents why we’re having this election in the first place but number two is about the economy and getting the economy back going and getting people back to work. Those are the big things and that’s in the agriculture sector, that’s in the oil and gas sector, that’s in the small business sector, that’s in the tourism sector. They want to get the economy back going and they want to get rid of this Prime Minister. That is mentioned 99 per cent of the time.

What are the biggest issues that are on people’s mind in Souris-Moose Mountain?
Well I think the economy is the biggest issue. People are looking at this and saying we’ve got to get people back to work and that’s throughout the riding, and getting as many people back working. People are interested in finding out more about the Main Street business loan that we’ve been talking about. The GST holiday is another thing people are talking about, they think that’s a good way to get businesses going, as well as the investment tax credit, again, to get businesses and small businesses to make things more competitive.

What is the main message you’re trying to get across in this election?
I think the main message is about the economy and getting Canadians back to work. Our debt is just huge and this Prime Minister has compounded and added to that. In six years, he’s added more money than all the Prime Ministers combined together. He’s borrowing money everyday. It’s over $400,000,000 a day that he’s overspending.

We need bring that under control. And we need to have steps to do that and we have a plan for that. As we move forward it’s not a plan that’s going to be done overnight, it’s going to take us 10 years to get that worked out, but we have a plan and by doing that we want to secure this country.

What’s your thought on what seems to be a growing number of paper candidates in rural areas?
It’s unfortunate that we have that, basically someone putting forward a facade to give the impression it’s a national party.

I personally believe that anybody running should be from the riding where they’re running. You need to know what that community is like and that is a challenge, especially in rural Canada because of the size of the ridings. A lot of times you look at the big cities and their ridings are five kilometers by five kilometer. You could walk around it. So you can have somebody that lives just outside that area running there, it’s easier for them to do that, but for here when we have a riding that’s 42,000 square kilometers you’ve got to have someone who truly understands what that community is about and how diverse it is.

As you’re aware we have potash in the northeast, we have coal in the south and the southwest, we have oil and gas throughout, we have agriculture throughout.

Anyone trying to represent this riding has to be here to truly understand this riding.

I truly believe this present government is basically trying to push rural Canada into urban Canada. I don’t want to see that. I want to keep rural Canada active and alive and that’s an important part of my campaign and what I’ve been talking to people about.

What are the challenges of campaigning in such a large riding?
It’s a challenge, as you know, getting from A to B. It makes for long days and means getting up early in the morning and going late at night and doing that as much as you can and getting out there to talk.

To me that’s important, being able to do that, and fortunately I can do that.
To me, talking to my constituents is the most important thing because I want to hear what they have to say. And some people have different opinion and that’s good, difference of opinion is important to move forward.

Greg Douglas, Maverick, Souris-Moose Mountain

How’s the campaign going for you so far?
It’s going very well. I’m very impressed with the reception that we’ve gotten so far. Everywhere we go it seems people are receptive to the message of a party that just looks out for the West.

It’s been good to get into the issues and talk about specifically what people want to talk about. I think they’re feeling disenfranchised.

What is the main thing you’re hearing from people? What’s the main message you’re getting?
That they’re not being heard.

That they have no voice in Ottawa and federal affairs and whether it’s oil and gas or another issue that matters to them, the pandemic, vaccine passports, oil and gas and energy, pipelines, people are saying it just seems we send MPs to Ottawa and they don’t carry the Western messages forward. It really speaks to the structural imbalance in Canada. The fact is, decisions are made in Ontario and Quebec, and the West is largely left out. I think people are increasingly frustrated by that.

So what’s your message to them, what are you trying to get across that the Maverick Party can do?
It’s a new political vehicle. It’s brand new. If you want a change that actually speaks to the West and Western issues, the heritage, the culture, the values, the industries, you have to do things differently.

This is a different political vehicle. It’s a different entity. It will look at every issue through the lens of whether it’s good for the West, whether it’s good for Souris-Moose Mountain. That makes it easy to understand and it makes it practical.

Sending those people—those Maverick MPs—to Ottawa to speak specifically for your values and your issues resonates, and it’s a tall order in terms of going to Ottawa with the status quo that they look out for there, but this is where we have to start.

If we send the old parties to Ottawa, we will get swallowed up the way the Tories have in the last four years.

The Maverick party is relatively new, do you find when you’re out talking to people, are people familiar with the party and what it stands for or are you having to do some education on what and who the Maverick party is?
That depends on where I go. There’s a certain amount of exposure but it’s brand new and people want to know what it is.

In certain sectors, like the energy sector, it seems that they’ve heard about us and they’ve been following us. In other sectors or areas where people have been living their lives and not engaged in federal politics for the last two years, then we have some discussion in terms of what we stand for and what we are.

The conversations invariably go very well, but exposure has been our issue and the pandemic hasn’t made it easy because obviously you can’t meet face-to-face as much as we would like.

How do you go about campaigning in a riding like this? Are you trying to get around to every community or how are you getting your message out?
A combination. I mean, it’s been a short writ period. I have been getting out to as many communities as possible. I haven’t made it up to Moosomin yet but I’ve made it to some communities around Moosomin. Wawota’s as close as I’ve gotten. I live in Weyburn. I have been out in communities around Weyburn. We obviously have a practice in Estevan so I’ve been through those areas.

Will I make it to every community in the next two weeks? Well, that’s likely not the case.

A combination of media, social media has played a role for us and certainly there’s really is no substitute for getting out there. We have an all candidates meeting in Estevan tonight and one in Weyburn tomorrow and then yours in Moosomin. It’s a combination, good old fashioned politics and then some modern media politics.

You’re a new party, you’re running in the riding where the Conservative candidate won with 84.4 per cent of the vote last time. Realistically, what are your goals for this election?
We don’t have any internal polling. Broader polling tells us we’re in second and we see ourselves as the only alternative to the Tory in this riding. He did have a large plurality, as you suggest.

We are a fiscally Conservative Western-based party and the more people hear about us the more our numbers are going to go up. I have no idea where we’ll end up.

As Erin O’Toole continues to abandon Conservative principles on issues related to carbon taxation and obviously the gun issues and is really becoming more and more like a Liberal, we will see our numbers move as more and more people come our way.

On a daily basis we’re having Conservatives come over to our campaign. So, in terms of numbers I couldn’t even hazard a guess. I see us as being competitive in this riding.

Through the campaign process so far, I imagine you’ve met a lot of people across the riding. What have you learned so far through the election process?
There is a large amount of frustration in many areas. The fact that the major parties are not really speaking economic recovery in Souris-Moose Mountain. The fact is that the energy sector continues to be a scape-goat for Ottawa for everything on the climate change file, and that frustration is very strong throughout the oil patch and justifiably so.

Every time somebody wants to put forward something on the climate change file, it is directed squarely at the oilpatch. I think there’s frustration with the imposition of more and more government as it relates to Covid and ending the pandemic and I think there’s a significant amount of frustration from that in people.

I think there’s a lot of frustration with the lack of political options that speak to the values of the West. It relates to all the issues that we talked about. Whether it’s equalization or fair market access, even senate reform, electoral reform comes up fairly commonly. They speak to the frustration. People just throw up their hands and say what for? I think Erin O’Toole’s got a lot of explaining to do and I think the current member will feel the brunt of some of that frustration.