Yorkton-Melville: Local candidates on the election trail

September 16, 2021, 10:41 am

Cathay Wagantall and Valerie Brooks

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.

Cathay Wagantall, Conservative, Yorkton-Melville

Howís the campaign going for you so far?
Personally Iíve been really pleased. Itís a tight timeline so Iím not getting to spend as much time in all communities but the response has been very good.

There have been some good questions, people are definitely engaged. I have a great team, my signs are out and itís actually going really, really well.

What sort of comments are you hearing when you talk to voters?
Really two major issues. The first one is a lot of concern around our freedoms, specifically in regard to mandatory vaccines and passports. Then the other thing is the whole issue of the economy and how in debt we are and how desperate they are to see our country restored to its prosperity.

Whatís the main message that youíre trying to get across to the voters? What are you telling them?
On the vaccines, I make it very clear that Erin OíToole and our whole caucus, myself, are against mandatory vaccines, and weíre taking heat for that, but we believe that itís a Charter right to determine your own health choices and to keep those private as well.

First Trudeau had come up with the idea to have a passport to travel within Canada which to me is contrary to our freedoms as well, to move about within our own nation. Then he dug in his heels and said you have to be able to show that you are double vaccinated to even be able to board a plane or a train, itís not even a matter of doing the rapid test if you arenít vaccinated. So thereís a lot of discussion around that. Iím fine with being requested to do a rapid test but does it divide and define those who are vaccinated and those who arenít? I would like to see that rapid test either not be done at all. I travel back and forth from Ottawa continually on a plane and I was doing that in the midst of the worst of it where they took our temperature, asked us questions and we did mask. So to me, why could we not continue with that?

Otherwise everyone should have a rapid test because the science has shown that youíre double vaccinated but you can still carry or actually get infected even though youíre vaccinated. So for everyoneís protection, it should be carried all the way around, rather than saying you just have to be tested if you are not vaccinated.

What are the other issues that you think are important in this campaign?
Weíre making it very clear that weíre committed to getting all sectors of our economy functioning again, that includes oil and gas.

At the same time we are very much championing our environmental plan and around here just making it clear that we have a responsibility within our own country to always be good stewards, especially in Saskatchewan. Seriously, weíre at the top of the food chain when it comes to that type of thing, and our plan has been well received.

I have been able to clarify for a lot of folks who have heard that what we have in our platform is a carbon tax. Itís not. They do respond well once I am able to have that conversation and word sure spreads. Thatís one advantage of rural Canada, too. People talk to each other and so itís been really good to have those conversations around meet-and-greets at the restaurants and door to door, but to have those opportunities to clarify issues, and answer questions has been really good.

How do you go about campaigning in such a large riding? Are you trying to get to every single community? Do you have a few major events or all-candidates meetings that youíre going to or is it more going town to town to town and knocking on doors and going to the coffee shop?
Itís a mixture. Iíve done a lot of travelling around the riding in the past, so I try to build on that.

I literally canít get to them all and folks are good about that, but at the same time I found having a meet and greet, weíve tried to advertise it in various ways, and then if they canít make it to one they will come to another in a neighboring town. Then I do go door knocking. I really enjoyed Main Streeting, up and down where the businesses are and then also going to the town administrative offices and the RM offices. Just having my presence and putting the posters up in the various locations the towns have along with some cards and whatnot. I went up along the west side up to St. Brieux and then was able to work somewhat around the Melville area. We had a bit of a business snag that required me to have to stay in the shop for a bit, so I lost a little bit of time there, but thatís the reality. Then weíve been up just to Hudson Bay yesterday and now in Porcupine Plain heading across to Bjorkdale and that area. Then Iíll be down more around home, towards next week. I guess I have a week left here to do Churchbridge, Langenburg, a meet and greet in Tantallon Monday at the rink.

I just go day to day quite honestly and just following my schedule but itís been good. Iíve enjoyed just keeping a presence as well in my local newspapers. Folks read the paper here, and Iím really pleased that our party has said weíre going to be investing far less in advertising as a government the way the Liberals have in those big social media sites and whatnot, and focus instead on our regional newspaper outlets more.

We need to recognize them, and thatís something important in our platform. We need to recognize rural Canada and what we contribute through GDP and the quality of life that we have.

Valerie Brooks, Green Party, Yorkton-Melville

Howís the campaigning going so far?
Thatís a pretty big question! Iíve been trying to travel to all the corners of our constituency which is big, wide and I feel really bad that I canít spend more time and see more people and knock on more doors. Iím a small party with a very small budget and a small team, so itís very different I think campaigning for me than for some of the incumbents.

For the most part I have been very happy with the reception Iíve been getting at doors. I have been warmly greeted in most of the communities, and people that donít know a lot about the Green Party have asked some really good questions. Some have been open to listening about who we are and what we stand for, so I can be happy about that.

How do you go about campaigning in such a large riding? Do you try to get to as many communities as possible and then go down Main Street and go door knocking? How do you do it?
Thatís what Iím doing. Iíve put together an itinerary and I was in Melville yesterday, Iím in Foam Lake today, Monday Iím in Hudson Bay, Tuesday Iím in Sturgis. Iím Zooming with communities like Kinistin First Nation, Iím Zooming with them on Tuesday because I just canít get all the way up to that corner to talk with them. I have a Facebook campaign but that is limited because only whoever is following me on Facebook gets to see that. Iíve done a little bit of mailing to the smaller communities that I just canít hit personally. Itís definitely an eye opener for me being a first time candidate in this riding. I realize we need a team, all candidates need a team to really hit it all and get our message out there. Iíve been also really, really happy and thankful for people like you, Kevin, the news media reaching out to me and asking me for information to be printed. So thatís getting the word out to the people.

What are you hearing from people so far? Whatís on peopleís minds when you start to talk to them about the election?
Something that Iíve heard over and over, sadly is ďI donít even know if Iím going to vote, I donít normally vote, I donít know if my vote even matters out here.Ē Sadly that is one of the biggest things that Iím hearing and to me thatís a tough one to hear. That makes my mission even more important to me because I think electoral reform, which is a big part of my platform and the Green partyís platform, needs to seriously be considered so that we can get back to feeling like our vote matters, feeling like our voice is heard, feeling like the East doesnít control everything that happens in terms of our electoral systems. The other thing Iím hearing is, ďI donít care what we do but weíve got to get whoís in there now out!Ē If I had a dollar for every time somebody said that, my campaign would be funded pretty nicely.

Whatís the main message that youíre trying to get across to the voters this election?
What I was just talking about, Kevin, is super important to me. Weíre not going to get anywhere on the crises that weíre seeing, like either the environmental crisis or the housing crisis or the opioid crisis or any of these crises that weíre seeing unless we fix our system and make it work better. Make our MPs work collaboratively in parliament to really tackle these big issues when they need to be tackled. In the leadersí debate, I was really proud of my leader because she kept focusing on that. If we keep fighting, if we keep bickering back and forth, none of this stuffís going to get worked out in a way that is sustainable and doesnít cost the taxpayers money. We shouldnít be having elections every two years just because we have a minority government, we should be working together and have set four-year elections because itís expensive to have an election.

I know itís a short election campaign, but what have you learned so far from participating in this campaign?
What have I learned? Thatís a good question.

Iíve learned we need to do a better job to increase the amount that people understand about our government and our system because a lot of people Iím talking to donít know a lot about the system and how the federal, provincial, and municipal levels work.

People are getting it mixed up, they donít quite get it and so Iím wondering if our system is so complex itís hard to understand or if itís not being taught well enough in schools for people to understand it.

Thatís a red flag for me.

Our participatory democracy isnít very participatory if people donít understand it.

I think thatís what I learned more than anything, is that I think Iíve underestimated that a lot of people maybe donít quite get it or donít quite understand enough to make that informed decision.

Iím not blaming them, that is not their fault because we should be doing a better job of explaining how our system works. If people really understand the system, they can participate in it in a meaningful way.