Canada's future prime minister will be elected next Monday and polls show a minority government is the most probable outcome.
Local candidates have been working hard to campaign across the 40,000 square kilometers of the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding to educate constituents about their respective party's policies and platforms.
While each party has different goals, if elected they all hope to improve the lives of Canadians and make the riding a better place to live.
New Democratic Party
NDP candidate and labour activist Yuk Sem Won said Canadians are tired of paying taxes only to have the government spend it in ways that help the rich get richer, while cutting the services people depend on most.
“The NDP want to invest in helping our communities grow. This includes investing in affordable housing, tackling student debt, and creating sustainable jobs while fighting the climate crisis,” she explained.
“We must tackle the opioid crisis that is growing across the region. The NDP will invest in treatment centres, proper healthcare, and community supports to break the cycle of addiction.”
“We owe it to our loved ones who suffer, and to all of us to have safe communities to raise our families and where businesses can thrive,” Won added.
She told the Times that inequities in indigenous communities must immediately be addressed, such as boil water advisories and the chronic underfunding of education and health care.
Won said the NDP have an audacious plan to pay for their goals by introducing a new one percent tax on Canadians which will generate $20-million a year or more while closing tax loopholes.
“It is time to get those who have become rich in our country to help just a little bit more so the rest of us can be healthy,” she reasoned.
National pharmacare and dental care are also on the forefront of the NDP's platform.
Won said her party wants to make sure Canadians can get the medications and health services they need with their health card, instead of a credit card.
Party of Canada
Conservative candidate and Thunder Bay city councillor Linda Rydholm said her experience in politics as a national board member on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have made her aware of what's happening in Ottawa.
“I helped to successfully advocate with MPs and senators for federal policy and funding for municipalities, and my proven experience will be an asset in the new government,” she remarked.
Rydholm told the Times the Conservatives will provide better money management, ethical leadership, community safety, and environmental planning.
Fiscal responsibility is one of the most important aspects of the Conservatives' plan, according to Rydholm. Debts incurred today will turn into increased taxes or decreased services in the future, she warned.
The Conservatives plan to scrap the carbon tax if elected, which will cost more than $1,100 per household by 2022 if kept in place.
“That tax is especially harsh on Northwestern Ontario where virtually everything, including food, arrives by truck or plane,” Rydholm explained,
“It would be better to have industries use green technology, and to get cooperation with China and India, which are emitting most of the green house gases,” she added.
“Global cooperation is needed to deal with climate change.”
Improved federal funding for healthcare (including veterans and serving military) is another part of the Conservatives' platform as well as reconciliation with indigenous communities.
Liberal Party of Canada
Liberal candidate and physician Marcus Powlowski says his party best represents traditional Canadian values, such as egalitarianism, compassion towards the disadvantaged, and diversity.
“The Liberal Party also however believes in the importance of business, realizing that a strong economy is the engine that pulls all of our social programs,” he remarked.
“[The Liberal Party] believes that there is a limit to what the government can spend and that we need to live within our means.”
Powlowski told the Times that his party is the only one that strikes a balance between social idealism and financial responsibility.
He said growing the middle class is an important issue in the upcoming election and the liberals will be decreasing taxes on those who earn less than $40,000.
“We also believe in stimulating the economy, especially looking to diversify the economy in towns like Fort Frances which are suffering as a result of the loss of the mill,” Powlowski noted.
He said one of his priorities if elected would be to attract better employers to places like Fort Frances, and touted the Liberals' investment in infrastructure during their last term in the riding.
The Liberals plan to address climate change through the carbon tax, banning single use plastics, and better protecting Canada's waterways.
Meanwhile, when looking to indigenous issues, Powlowski said the Liberals have not been perfect but has done more than any other party to provide more housing, better water and sewage, improved education and language preservation to reserves.
“The Liberals have clearly made indigenous issues, that are often put on the back burner, on the top of their political agenda,” he charged.
People's Party of Canada (PPC)
PPC candidate and Rainy River municipal councillor Andrew Hartnell said the PPC plan to make life more affordable for Canadians.
Their ambitious tax plan will help achieve this by reducing the number of tax brackets from five to two, with incomes from $15,001 to $100,000 taxed at 15 percent and income over $100,000 is taxed at 25 percent.
The PPC also plan to abolish the capital gains tax and carbon tax, while personal exemptions are to be reduced from $15,000 to $12,000.
“We need to show the taxpayer that it is not just an endless supply of money, we need to respect the taxpayer and get back to a balanced budget within the first term,” noted Hartnell, who said his party would eliminate the deficit in two years if elected.
The PPC supports reduced immigration, capping it at 150,000 new immigrants a year, which is 200,000 less than what is currently accepted by the Truedeau government.
“The people that are coming over are not coming to small rural Canadian towns; they are going to the cities where it is putting a strain on the system and we need to make sure that our country can handle this amount of people,” Hartnell said.
“Canada is a very welcoming country and we were built on immigration but we need to do it in a controlled manner and the current government is not doing that right now and it needs to change.”
Other areas of focus for the PPC include ending corporate welfare and stopping foreign aid as well as boil water advisories on reserves.
Green Party of Canada
Green Party candidate and certified environmental practitioner Amanda Moddejonge says the Greens do politics differently, working across party lines in order to get things done effectively.
“Our platform offers a way to open up dialogue across jurisdictional lines so that areas of concern to our community can be discussed between all levels of funding so that we can come up with actual solutions,” she explained.
“We are the only party committed to working with all other parties, which is going to be critical with the upcoming minority government that we will see after this election.”
In terms of working with First Nations, Moddejonge said her party recognizes their right to self governance and want to realize this by fixing the legislative framework around the matter.
Meanwhile, the Green Party's climate change platform is evident in every aspect of their platform, according to Moddejonge.
“This is important because climate change isn't about just one thing. Our carbon footprint is evident in more aspects of life than most of us are aware,” she noted.
“Our plan is going to support Canadians by changing their behaviour in ways that actually make life better for all of us, and we're going to do it in a way that everyone can manage.”
“Improving the environment is the most important product of our plan, but it also comes with the development of long-term, sustainable, well paid jobs for people in our area,” Moddejonge added.
A guaranteed livable income is another part of the Green Party's platform, to provide better support for those who don't qualify for Ontario Works, ODSP, and EI.
“Our plan offers a dignified way for all Canadians to make it through the tough times when there are disruptions to employment, sickness, or family responsibilities that need attention,” Moddejonge remarked.