Clifford Bull acclaimed PC candidate for Kiiwetinoong riding
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
Lac Seul First Nation Chief Clifford Bull has been acclaimed as the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario candidate for the newly minted Kiiwetinoong riding.
The announcement was made February 15 at the Legion in Sioux Lookout during the inception of the Kiiwetinoong Provincial PC Association.
The newly created riding encompasses the municipalities of Sioux Lookout and Red Lake, the townships of Ear Falls and Pickle Lake, and approximately 25 First Nation communities.
“The former leader of the PC Party (Patrick Brown) came here to Lac Seul and personally recruited me,” Bull said. “He came up and we did a tour of the community. Some of the infrastructure that was created during my tenure as chief these past few years, the (Whitefish Bay and Kejick Bay) causeways, the arena (Lac Seul Events Centre), the school (Obishikokaang Elementary School), various infrastructure projects have been completed, roads project. He looked at all these projects and said, you’ve done a lot of great work here and I think you’re the guy to lead us in the newly formed riding of Kiiwetinoong.”
Bull served four years as a Lac Seul First Nation Councillor and has served Lac Seul First Nation for 12 years as chief.
Bull said he hasn’t, in the past, been a card carrying member of any particular political party.
“I have an old photograph of my father and Leo Bernier sitting outside Leo Bernier’s house and my father was a former chief. I think they were talking politics in the photograph and I’ve met Leo Bernier, The Emperor of the North, as he was called back then. I kind of liked some of the things he had done for the region and I wanted to perhaps follow in his footsteps,” Bull shared.
Healthcare and infrastructure are two areas he wants to improve in the riding.
Specifically, Bull said he plans to work hard to address the shortage of long-term care beds in the riding. “Sioux Lookout, (northern First Nation) communities have to send a lot of their elderly south because there’s a lack of beds.”
Director, Organization and Election Readiness for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, Steve Gilchrist, attended the February 15 Kiiwetinoong Provincial PC Association meeting.
Gilchrist is a former MPP and was a cabinet minister in the Mike Harris government.
He commented on getting more long-term care beds for the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, which serves the Sioux Lookout area and northern First Nation communities. “Based on my past experience there is no reason the new Minister of Health (and Long-Term Care) couldn’t put out a call for tenders from construction companies. Typically you wouldn’t make that last more than 90 days, and you then make your decision. Shovels in the ground this year, building’s opened next year.”
He added, “Clifford doesn’t have to fight anybody when it comes down to getting allocations of the financial resources to do this because our party has already said we are committed to 30,000 long-term care beds, and 10,000 of those rush.
Bull stated, “The other one of course is some of the major projects, Watay(nikaneyap Power Project) that is going to connect 13 remote communities to the (provincial power) grid and Pikangikum is already having the work done as I speak.”
Bull said he wants to work with municipalities and First Nations to identify their issues and work to address them.
“I will be a strong voice for everyone in the north,” he said.
Bull said he obtained a legal opinion on running as a provincial candidate while serving as Lac Seul First Nation chief.
“If, hopefully I win on June 7, then that’s the time I would have to step down and an interim chief would have to be in place,” he said.
Bull has already spoken with members of his council about taking a leave of absence from his duties to campaign once the election writ is officially dropped.
“They’re very supportive of my decision to represent the PC Party in the new riding of Kiiwetinoong,” he said.
Bull added, “I respect whoever the candidates are (for the other political parties) and wish them well in their campaign.”
Sioux Lookout resident Anne Ayotte was acclaimed as president of the Kiiwetinoong Provincial PC Association.
Knowles McGill, Jane McGill, Dennis Leney, and Genevieve Knauff were acclaimed as vice-presidents. Barry King was acclaimed as financial agent.
“One of the key things he (Bull) would like to do to recognize the area with Lac Seul, Hudson, and Sioux Lookout is have a campaign office in Hudson. It’s central to the communities of Lac Seul and Sioux Lookout,” Ayotte commented.
She concluded, “We will be getting on the ground fairly soon and setting up social media and other things as well. Very excited to do this.”