By Marianne Curtis
The 40th provincial election race has barely kicked off and candidates are already pounding the pavement vying for the support of voters when they head to the polls on October 4.
With the election officially called after the September long weekend, candidates will only have twenty-eight days to convince voters to either vote for change or keep the status quo. To date, no matter which party presents themselves on the doorstep, the cry they hear remains the same – Manitoba wants change.
When it comes to the faces of this year’s election, there is a familiar name in each constituency except for La Verendrye. Dennis Smook from Vita, Monica Guetre from La Broquerie and Maurice Tallaire from St. Adolphe have their work cut out for them convincing voters that things will be different this time around. All three candidates agree that the region’s most rural and widespread constituency needs a very strong voice.
“I don’t believe the other parties will ever pay attention to southern Manitoba – that’s why I am running,” stated Guetre, who is vying to turn southern Manitoba’s party colors to Liberal red. “When it comes to eastern Manitoba, the government should not be telling us what we need, we should be telling our government what we need – we are not looking for a recreation center, we are looking at education, infrastructure, and building rural communities.”
Tory candidate Dennis Smook, a vita businessman, agrees that the area is behind others and he is hoping to bring about some change especially when it comes to one of the area’s biggest issues.
“I have been promising to do what I can to look into things like cell service, especially for 911 – across La Verendrye, the one thing you hear in every corner is concern about the lack of cell phone service,” Smook added. “This is important for business and for growth.”
NDP hopeful Maurice Tallaire is also promising to address this issue.
“We need better health care in the area, water and sewer, more money spent on recreation, and on education,” Tallaire says. “Every school should be treated equally, the schooling should all be the same. For example, many kids in the southeast don’t have access to high speed internet while other kids do which puts them at a disadvantage – this need’s to be addressed.”
With constituency boundaries changed, former La Verendrye MLA Ron Lemiuex would like to see himself named the first representative for the newly formed Dawson Trail constituency.
“I am not over optimistic but I am feeling pretty positive because the communities that have voted for me in solid amounts in the past are still within the boundaries of the new Dawson Trail,” stated Lemieux. “Getting elected is going to take a lot of work because you have work like you are one vote behind but I have a track record to run on and I think I have been a strong MLA and cabinet minister that people can look at and I have a good plan moving forward.”
His opponent Larry Tetrault, is not worried about taking on the former MLA – he wants to paint Dawson Trail Tory blue.
“It is very exciting to be running and I strongly believe that there will be a change not only in Dawson Trail but throughout the province,” Tetrault said. “If you work hard and give a lot you continue to reap a lot.”
Liberal candidate Sandra Hoskins is also undaunted about her opponents.
“Overall, the voters are ready for change – voters that I have spoken to are more receptive to the ideas of the Manitoba Liberals than at any time in the past. ,” Hoskins stated. “I think it is the same thing that happens after a long time with the same policies in place with the same people at the helm.”
In Steinbach, Kelvin Goertzen returns for another kick at the cat. He is being challenged by twenty-eight year old Lee Fehler (LIB), and Dalydia Gutierrez (NDP).
“As a young candidate I am always interested in getting people engaged in politics and engaged in the process yet people have taken on a cynical attitude toward politics in this province and in this country and we have seen it in the form of low voter turnout,” stated Fehler. “(However) I definitely feel very optimistic. We have a lot of bright minds and young faces on board the party right now and I think that shows a positive growth for the party.”
In Emerson, two unknown candidates Micheline Belliveau (LIB) and Lori Fiddler (NDP) are taking on incumbent PC candidate Cliff Graydon.
“There is a lot of optimism in the area and the winds of change are blowing across the province,” Graydon added. “I feel I have served my people well and because I am a beef producer and a prominent member of the cattle producers board I am very disappointed in the way the province has been handling the agriculture industry – if you say you’re going to do something, do something.”
Infrastructure issues, flooding What we have seen is the troubling infrastructure – not replacing bridges, the winds of change is in the province,”
Morris incumbent Mavis Tailieu (PC) is being challenged by Janelle Mailhot (LIB) and Mohamed Alli (NDP).