Canadians to go to the polls on September 20
OTTAWA – It’s official, after weeks of speculation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Governor General Mary Simon at 10 am on Sunday, emerging an hour later to launch Canada’s 44th election campaign—signalling the key Liberal platform by asserting that Canadians need the opportunity to weigh in to decide “how we’ll finish the fight against COVID-19.”
“I think it’s important that Canadians make their voice heard as to how they want to end this pandemic, and how we’re going to build back better now,” Mr. Trudeau said during a press conference outside Rideau Hall. “This is about giving Canadians an opportunity to weigh in at a really pivotal time.”
This election will take place on September 20, following a 37-day campaign, the shortest allowed by law.
“The decisions your government makes right now will define the future your kids and grandkids grow up in. So in this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say?” Prime Minister Trudeau queried, adding “Who wouldn’t want their chance to help decide where our country goes from here?”
Opposition parties lined up to assert their opposition to the election call, with Conservative leader Erin O’Toole accusing the Liberals of risking Canadians’ progress during the pandemic to play political games.
New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh called the election call “selfish” on the Liberal leader’s part. He said Justin Trudeau made the call because he is tired of having the NDP push him into providing more support to Canadians.
There are four nominated candidates for the Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing seat. Incumbent NDP MP Carol Hughes, Conservative nominee John Sagman, Liberal nominee Duke Peltier and Green nominee Stephen Zimmerman.
Please see the candidates’ bios and initial statements below.
Carol Hughes, NDP incumbent
First elected to Parliament in 2008, Ms. Hughes has served as NDP critic for First Nations health and as deputy speaker of the House of Commons. Before serving as an MP, Ms. Hughes was a long-time community volunteer. Her bio notes that she “has worked with communities and businesses on all manner of federal applications that have brought jobs and infrastructure funds into the riding, which also saw having Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing in the top three spots for receiving per capita annual FedNor funding in the past four years.”
“It’s extremely unfortunate that the prime minister is only looking after the interests of his and his government looking for a majority,” said NDP incumbent Carol Hughes. “The NDP has always been willing to work with this government in getting key legislation through.”
She asserted that the Liberal government only wanted to put forward the very minimum when it came to supporting people through the pandemic and was only forced to step up their game thanks to the NDP. “They only wanted to work through EI (employment insurance) at the start,” she said. “They were not willing to get $2,000 to those willing to work who couldn’t. At first they only wanted to provide $800 to workers.”
Ms. Hughes also questioned the Liberal commitment to employers and the wage subsidy program.
She went on to note that this election will only run for five weeks yet will end up as the most expensive in Canadian history—with the most likely result ending up in roughly the same place.
Duke Peltier, Liberal candidate
Duke Peltier is serving his fourth consecutive term as the chief of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territories where he lives with his wife, Nicole and their three children. Mr. Peltier serves on several boards, including the Anishinabek Nation Leadership Council, Assembly of First Nations Chiefs Committee on Languages, Chiefs of Ontario Wealth Creation Committee, Robinson Huron Treaty Trust, University of Sudbury Board of Regents, Right To Play Advisory Board, Northern Policy Institute Advisory Board, Indian Resource Council Board and the Indian Oil and Gas Co-Management Board. His strong business development professional approach remains grounded in Anishinaabe history, culture, philosophy and language.
“I think the riding needs someone who is with the sitting government,” said Mr. Peltier. “We need a voice that understands the day-to-day realities of the region.”
In addition to the up-close and personal relationship with the members of his community that comes from being a First Nations leader, Mr. Peltier points to his strong presence at regional and national boards, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, as a strong asset. “I have been on the Northern Policy Institute’s advisory board since its inception (around 2014),” he said.
“I am looking forward to the coming campaign and meeting with people from across the riding,” said Mr. Peltier. “I have been encouraged by many of my community members and I am hoping that translates into support in other communities as well.”
John Sagman, Conservative candidate
John Sagman is a professional engineer who has worked in the mining and forestry resource sectors in northern British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, northern areas located in Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario. Much of this experience included working with First Nations to attain excellence with respect to environmental requirements and completion of projects in cold weather environments. He has also participated in significant volunteer work associated with primary, secondary and post-secondary education programs. Mr. Sagman is described as an avid kayaker, hiker and cyclist.
“Northern Ontario is one of the big economic engines for the Canadian Economy,” said Mr. Sagman. “The Liberal/NDP coalition has no concerns with shutting down our resource industries. In addition, they will not support our region in the Ring of Fire discussions.”
Mr. Sagman goes on to assert “there has been minimal financial support by the federal government in this region. It’s time for change. Our team will utilize an engineering approach; deliverables, schedules, forecasts and follow up audits to track our commitments to our constituents.”
Mr. Sagman suggests AMK voters “support our team so we can get to work on creating additional jobs, stop wasteful spending and get inflation under control. We need to ‘Secure our Future’ now.”
Stephen Zimmerman, Green candidate
Stephen Zimmermann is a high school teacher from Laird Township, husband and a father of three grown children, he has lived in Algoma for 20 years, after moving to the area from the Yukon.
“We should have this election, but not now,” he said, adding that the prime minister should have waited until after the pandemic, not during the fourth wave to call an election. His decision was simple opportunism, based on polling, not what’s best for Canada.
“The world is changing and change brings challenges,” said Mr. Zimmerman. “The current wildfire situation underlines the need to act on climate change. The Green Party has a clear, comprehensive, well-considered plan to move Canada to a better future and address the challenges facing Canadian society. It’s not short-term and it’s not based on opinion polls. For me, the issues of ‘greening’ the economy and enhancing democracy are most important. A ‘green’ economy is the future, a model embraced around the world. It’s better for the environment and we need it to be competitive economically. Our democratic system is strong, but it can be improved to allow a more diverse range of voices, to work better for all of us.”
The Expositor will be sending each candidate a question every week sounding out their positions on issues of interest to Islanders. Look for those questions and answers on Page 3 of each week’s edition.