Former city councillor Vanessa Hamilton is again throwing her hat into an election race and will be running as an independent candidate in Brandon-Souris in the federal election.
Hamilton said she is running without a party’s backing because most Canadians are not members of a federal political party and don’t have a strong affiliation for anyone in particular.
"Brandon-Souris is a safe seat (for the Conservatives) … but because of that, I think that Brandon-Souris is taken for granted, and except for a couple occasions you don’t see party leaders out here, you don’t see big announcements," she said
"I want to run to represent Brandon-Souris residents and give them a voice because they haven’t been seen or heard for a very long time."
Hamilton is not a newcomer to the local political scene. She also ran as the Liberal candidate in Brandon East in the 2016 provincial election, where she received 11.8 per cent of the vote, ultimately losing to Progressive Conservative Len Isleifson. Before that, she was elected as the city councillor for Riverview ward and was president of the Brandon-Souris NDP riding association.
She acknowledges her campaign is a long shot and that incumbent Conservative candidate Larry Maguire will likely win. Without a party behind her, she said it will be an uphill battle.
"With a political party, they’re starting off with donations and I’m starting off with nothing. It’s basically a choice on the ballot at the end of the day," she said.
In her day job, Hamilton is a healthy living facilitator at Prairie Mountain Health, which she says has informed her priorities heading into the election. She said she is focused on putting more money in people’s pockets and creating good jobs.
"Income is the most important determinant of health, and if you don’t have income you can’t buy healthy food, housing, education," Hamilton said. "I don’t believe a job is a job is a job. Just because we have more jobs our province or Canada doesn’t mean that they’re high-quality jobs. A lot of it part-time jobs, and that doesn’t pay the bills."
If she is elected as a member of Parliament, Hamilton said she would listen to the experts and partner with others. She said she doesn’t have all the answers and would seek out those who do.
Hamilton also won’t be running a formal election campaign, which means she will not accept donations, put up signs or hand out campaign material. She said she will be busy getting signatures over the next six weeks before the federal election, so putting together a team is not realistic. Her approach is more grassroots and she said she has been talking to people around the riding to get a sense of their concerns.
"One of the things that if elected, if there is a chance, is taking some of these ideas at the ground level and working on those. That’s going to develop my platform. That’s why I’m different from the partisan candidates. Their platform is already developed, this one’s going to be Brandon-Souris specific."
Despite the odds, Hamilton said it was important to give people in Westman an additional choice come election day. Currently, Hamilton will run against Maguire, People’s Party of Canada candidate Rob Lussier and Green Party candidate Bill Tiessen.
The federal election is scheduled for Oct. 21.
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