With just days to go until the 43rd Federal Election, political MP candidates in ridings across Canada are starting to prepare for the final stretch of their campaigns.
For the local riding of Peace River-Westlock, five candidates are vying for the MP position; Liberal Party candidate Leslie Penny, Green Party candidate Peter Nygaard, People’s Party of Canada candidate John Schrader, current incumbent and Conservative Party MP Arnold Viersen, and the recently added NDP candidate Jennifer Villebrun.
Here, we cover a breakdown of all the candidates and their party platforms.
Liberal candidate Leslie Penny is no stranger to politics, having served as a Barrhead councilor since 2013. Penny has been a long-time Liberal supporter and when asked why she accepted the Party’s invitation to run, she says it would benefit rural Alberta to have more Liberal voices in Ottawa.
Penny says a Liberal government would continue to bring tax benefits to low and middle-class families. They will focus on rural agriculture, funding for infrastructure and increased immigration, and working to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built while focusing on carbon emissions and climate change strategies.
Penny says a carbon tax will help to reduce global emissions. She is also in support of the Liberal’s hopes to implement a national pharmacare program to cover prescription drugs for more Canadians.
When most Canadians think of the Green Party they think of environmentalism, but the Green Party candidate for Peace River-Westlock assures that the party has much more to offer in all aspects for Canadians.
Candidate Peter Nygaard, a business owner in the Hamlet of Joussard on the shores of Lesser Slave Lake, decided to run for MP because he wants to see a change in the political arena and offer voters more of a choice with a complete platform. Nygaard says the Green Party covers every issue of importance.
Nygaard is a member of the Onion Lake Cree Nation and feels he is the only voice to truly represent all constituents in the riding, including “minorities who don’t always get their issues heard.”
Nygaard says the Green Party is interested in economic stability. They would invest in green initiatives to remain environmentally friendly while sustaining a workforce with industry and resource jobs. They would like to export value-added goods, particularly in forestry and oil to keep markets stable. Nygaard adds that they would keep the oil sector but sell refined oil versus raw bitumen on the global market, as a way to diversify the industry. To that end, the Greens are against pipelines and would not continue the fight for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, since it would export raw bitumen. Nygaard also says that with diversifying the industry and improving economic stability, the Green Party would rely on domestic oil production and stop importing foreign oil. The party also supports a federal carbon tax.
For forestry and having more value-added goods, the Party would push for more selective logging practices and less clear-cutting of forests in an effort for more sustainability. Diversification is also on the agenda for agriculture, with a focus on helping out smaller farms so they can compete in a bigger market.
When summarizing the Green Party and its candidates, Nygaard says, “We’re not just a bunch of environmentalists. We’re citizens like everyone else with the intent to aid the entire population.”
One of the Peace River-Westlock MP candidates is focusing not only on the riding and Alberta but on the importance of the nation as a whole.
Westlock County resident John Schrader is running for the People’s Party of Canada and believes the PPC platform is the best one to serve Canada and its citizens in all areas of interest.
Along with mandating for pipelines, where the Party hopes to streamline the decision-making process quickly and look at reducing over-regulation, Schrader says the PPC will repeal the carbon tax and review equalization payment amounts.
The Party hopes to eliminate corporate subsidies and lower farm tax rates at 10 percent to improve business for the poultry and dairy industries, and telecommunications in a free and open market. Other tax policies for the PPC include eliminating the tax on capital gains and increasing the personal income tax exemption to $15,000.
The PPC would also tackle climate change, Schrader says, using evidence-based data, and they would cap immigration at 15,000 instead of the current 300,000 to focus more on assimilating immigrants who are already living in Canada and making sure they have the same rights to work like Canadians.
Peace River-Westlock’s current MP, Arnold Viersen, announced in August that he was running to defend his Conservative Party seat for a second term.
First elected in 2015, Viersen has been a member of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs and has served two years as Deputy Rural Affairs Critic and two years as Deputy Critic of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development.
Viersen says he would like another opportunity to keep bringing important issues of the region to Ottawa’s attention. Over the past four years, Viersen has been an advocate for pipelines, resource development, farming, and firearms ownership in the riding. He has also been a supporter of local municipalities in their fights to advocate for better protection of resources during caribou range planning.
Viersen says the Conservative Party under Andrew Scheer would immediately repeal the federal Carbon Tax, Bill C-69, and the Fire Arms Act Bill C-71, or “back-door gun registry” as Viersen calls it. They would also try and get pipelines built as soon as possible.
Viersen has been critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party’s policies. He has also criticized Trudeau’s many recent scandals and hopes that Canadians will look at those failures and demand better from their leader, and vote for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
Viersen added that the Conservative Party is the best choice for advocating for Canada’s and Alberta’s natural resources and getting exports to market.
The Peace River-Westlock riding’s final candidate, NDP candidate Jennifer Villebrun, was a late addition to the ballot. Villebrun confirmed herself in the running for MP at the end of September after initially thinking she wasn’t going to run.
Villebrun, a resident of Sunset House between High Prairie and Valleyview, is also not a stranger to the political stage; she ran for the Green Party in the 2008 election and then for the NDP in 2011.
When deciding to run again, Villebrun says it came down to wanting a change from the long-running Conservatives in the riding, adding that she hasn’t seen change over the years.
The NDP, like the Liberals, are also in favour of a national pharmacare plan, as well as a childcare program. Villebrun would like to see environmentalism stay a key focus and would prefer the country and province to look at alternative industries instead of being reliant on just oil and gas.