Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa is without an incumbent candidate in this federal election, leaving the field open for a variety of candidates to vie for the Westman seat in the House of Commons.
Former Conservative Party of Canada MP Robert Sopuck announced his retirement from federal politics last year, leaving current party candidate Dan Mazier to take up the party banner in the riding.
Mazier, the former president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, said he’s feeling good about his first try at party politics.
Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa is extremely large, stretching south from Carberry all the way north to Shoal Lake. In light of this, Mazier said it is important for him or any other candidate to get to as much of the riding as possible over the next 39 days.
"I’ve really enjoyed the winter, getting out there and meeting people. We took advantage of when Canadians in rural areas have the tendency to be in the coffee shop a little bit more in the wintertime, we took full advantage of those to get out and meet the communities," he said.
Looking ahead to the Oct. 21 election, Mazier said the biggest issue in the riding is affordability and the cost of living.
"People are getting really frustrated with the excessive spending that’s gone on here in the last four years under the Trudeau government and just the sheer affordability issue … it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet at the end of the day due to crazy government spending."
Katharine Storey, the Green candidate in the riding, said residents are starting to look at the party "as a real option." She said the coming weeks will be about telling people who she is and what the party stands for.
Residents have been taken up with the provincial election recently, she said, and people are worried about voter and volunteer fatigue.
"Everybody who’s interested in politics has been pretty involved all summer and now we have another six weeks to go — but that’s how it works," she said.
Despite this, Mazier said he’s not worried about voter and volunteer fatigue — he said the provincial campaign helped lay the groundwork for parties moving into the federal election.
People’s Party of Canada candidate Frank Godon said he believes he could benefit from the recent provincial campaign. Some voters cast their ballot for the Progressive Conservatives provincially who would otherwise vote for the People’s Party on the federal level.
"I was out a few weeks before and I’m getting a very honest and good reception from the people I’ve met so far. I’ve talked mostly with people who are undecided and so most of them are very interested in the party, I’d say I’m optimistic there," he said.
Godon’s strategy for the election campaign will be to focus on the more urban parts of the large riding, including Neepawa, Dauphin, Russell and Roblin, he said. The goal is also to use radio advertisements to reach people across the mostly rural area.
The party’s immigration platform has been resonating in the riding, Godon said, which is to stop "mass immigration" and cap immigration levels at 150,000 new immigrants per year.
"I’m going to try to work with that because it’s something that’s important to them," he said.
On Wednesday, neither the Liberal Party or the NDP had nominated candidates to run in Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa.
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