Q and A with the Kiiwetinoong riding candidates
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
Area residents will head to the polls on June 7 to elect the newly created Kiiwetinoong riding’s first Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP).
With Election Day drawing closer, The Sioux Lookout Bulletin asked the Kiiwetinoong riding candidates the following questions:
(1) Tell us about yourself.
(2) What should voters know about you?
(3) Why have you decided to seek office?
(4) What experience will you bring to the job and what qualities do you possess that you think will make you good at the job?
(5) What is your election platform?
(6) On what issues that you feel matter to the people of this riding will you be campaigning and why?
(7) What do you see as being the Kiiwetinoong riding’s major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and how do you plan to address them?
(8) Is there anything else you would like to say to voters?
The following are the candidate’s responses in the order they were received.
Christine Penner Polle – Green Party of Ontario
Christine Penner Polle is excited to share the Green Party of Ontario’s message of People, Jobs, and Planet in the newly created riding of Kiiwetinoong. Polle, an educator, author, and former nurse, is inspired by the GPO’s vision that it is time to balance all three, not value one more than any other.
“The Green Party recognizes that these three pillars are needed for people to thrive. If the land and air are polluted while providing jobs, people suffer,” Polle says, “We only have to look right here in our riding at the communities of Wabaseemoong and Grassy Narrows to see the tragic results of that kind of short-term thinking.”
“Here in northwestern Ontario, the Anishinaabe have been taking care of the land for millennia. The Green Party recognizes that the people of this region can thrive in the 21st century economy while preserving the beauty and uniqueness of this area,” Polle asserts.
Polle feels grateful for the opportunity she’s had to to work and live in the riding of Kiiwetinoong since she and her family moved to Red Lake in 2001.
“I was lucky enough to be hired to work with the newly-created KO Telemedicine program right after I arrived in Red Lake. It was an amazing opportunity to work for Keewaytinook Okimakanak and get to know the people and the communities all around this riding.”
Polle left KO to complete her Education degree at Lakehead University. She went on to research and write the Municipality of Red Lake’s Cultural Plan and has served on several municipal boards. She has also been an active member of local food and green initiatives in her community. As well, Polle has traveled to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Queen’s Park in Toronto, and Capitol Hill in Washington DC to talk with politicians and lawmakers about taking action on climate change. Running as the Green Party candidate in this election is a natural next step for her, she says.
“As a mother and former nurse, I have been motivated to speak to politicians. They have to make difficult decisions about how to decrease harmful pollution. This pollution is not only affecting our health now through smog and contaminated water, it’s also destabilizing weather patterns and affecting our winter roads. This has a long-term negative effect on our, and our children and grandchildren’s, health and prosperity. Now it’s time for me to participate in the political process by bringing the GPO’s message to the people of Kiiwetinoong.”
The Green Party candidate is pleased that her party’s platform recognizes the importance of honouring Indigenous rights.
“If reconciliation is important to you, then the Green Party is where your vote should go,” Polle says, “We recognize that in building this province and this country, treaties were broken, land was taken unceded, and Indigenous rights were violated.”
Other issues that concern the people of this riding are the rising cost of electricity and access to adequate healthcare, including a lack of long-term care beds. The Green candidate underscores that unemployment is also unacceptably high in many of Kiiwetinoong communities.
“There is a whole segment of people in this riding who are struggling. The Green Party recognizes that a Basic Income Guarantee is the most efficient and cost effective way to eliminate poverty. As well, as your Green MPP I will fight to lower payroll taxes to help local businesses and nonprofits that contribute so much to our communities,” Polle says.
If you value the three pillars of people and jobs and the planet, Polle says that the GPO is for you.
“Like elected Greens across Canada, I’m on a mission to bring honesty, integrity, and policies that put people first to Queen’s Park. If you know that we can do better in Ontario, vote Green on June 7.”
Sol Mamakwa – Ontario New Democratic Party
(1)(2) Born and attended high school in Sioux Lookout. Raised in Kingfisher Lake. Grew up hunting and fishing. Speak Oji-Cree. Live in Sioux Lookout.
(3) To bring a northern voice to Queen’s Park. I have a unique perspective on the barriers, challenges and successes in the North.
(4) I’ve lived in the riding all my life. I am dedicated to ensuring that people in our communities have access to health care. I serve as the Co-chair of the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, and I have been actively involved with the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority, Sioux Lookout Physicians Regional Services, and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.
As the lead health advisor for the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, I have worked alongside federal and provincial representatives to transform the way health care is delivered to the NAN territory by improving service delivery throughout the riding.
I understand the challenges communities and families face, and I am eager to bring the needed change for the better to the riding.
(5) Andrea Horwath and the NDP’s election platform will benefit the North the most.
We will invest in Northern health care, so people can receive care closer to home. We will double Ontario’s investment in the First Nations Health Action Plan, providing at least $209 million per year.
Our plan for Ontario benefits means everyone in Kiiwetinoong will be able to access dental care and pharmacare. We will invest $27 million to help build and retrofit dental clinics and dental buses for remote communities. This will done in partnership with Aboriginal Health Access Centres (Meno Ya).
We’re making historic investments in mental health by creating a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and putting 2,600 more mental health workers in the field, including in First Nations communities. We’ will declare opioids a public health emergency - and that means resources can get to communities that need help quickly, and we’re going to look at why some communities are over-prescribed.
We’re committed to resource revenue sharing beyond the mining tax, and we’ll tear up the Far North Act.
The Ontario NDP have committed to double the federal commitment to First Nations police funding to $60 million a year -- that will have an impact on NAPS.
Also, the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre will benefit from our historic commitment of $130 million for friendship centres and their programs over the next decade, including an immediate investment of $228 M for urgent repairs.
We will help make life more affordable by ending gas price gouging, and we will lower hydro rates by about 30%. The NDP will establish a true government to-government relationship with Ontario First Nations.
(6) People are worried about the high cost of goods and services in the North, and providing a safe place to live for their families that is affordable. We have a plan to help make life more affordable and provide secure and affordable housing.
(7) The riding has great potential with our vast area of resources, but they must be developed in an environmental friendly way, with the consent and partnership of Frist nations and people of the area. Revenues from the royalties on those resources should be shared with First Nations and Indigenous communities. The NDP will transfer the province’s share of mining taxes to Ontario’s First Nations, working with First Nations leadership. Without benefit agreements with communities and First Nations, development should not take place. As a First Nation member I can be the voice of the area in the Assembly of Ontario to bring this about.
(8) It’s time for Change for The better and to bring a strong voice to Queen’s Park. Vote NDP. Vote Sol Mamakwa.
Doug Lawrance – Ontario Liberal Party
(1) When we are asked, tell me about yourself, while the answers will be different for each of us, the reality is that we are all more similar than different. We may have come from different places and travelled different journeys to get to where we are today, but we are all here together hoping for the same basic things – health and well-being for ourselves, our families and our communities. My journey started in Scotland. After immigrating to Canada my growing up and student years were spent in Montreal, Thunder Bay, and Toronto. My wife and I spent six years working in the Caribbean and Africa before working in north-central B.C. And then, 33 years ago we came to Sioux Lookout for work and stayed.
My road to running for elected office likely started with my work as an engineer and small business owner of Keewatin-Aski Ltd, building essential social and economic infrastructure across Northern communities, including the towns and First Nations that makeup the new riding of Kiiwetinoong.
Together with my wife Cherry, we’ve raised our family here in Sioux Lookout. I became heavily involved in the hockey community, coaching and managing many hockey teams. I enjoyed giving my time to something that means a lot to our community.
I’m an avid reader, and spend time seeking out books that teach me something new. I enjoy sport and personal wellness especially outdoors with the natural beauty surrounding us.
(2)Voters should know that my community means a lot to me. Eight years ago I retired from my engineering business and decided to spend more time contributing to our community by running for Mayor.
Other things voters may want to know:
I’m hardworking and highly dedicated to my work. Once I commit, I’m all in on the task.
As an engineer, I like to get the facts, work with the facts, and make decisions that are evidence-based.
I’m ambitious to see progress for our people and community and like to make things happen.
I know that government has the power to improve the quality of life, the vibrancy and resiliency of a community, and the success of our local businesses and economy. I have seen it and been part of it.
Government exists to do things and to take action for the needs of the people it serves. I believe government is best placed to take care of people who are facing challenges and to help those who are less fortunate.
(3) My decision to run for Mayor and now as MPP is because I care about our community and realize I can have a positive impact on its direction. It was and remains my belief that Sioux Lookout needs to embrace its privileged role as the Hub of the North and to work together with First Nation communities to forge progress for all of us.
As Mayor, I have recognized that decision makers at the Provincial level often have a lack of awareness of the facts of our region. Also as Mayor, I have been able to see the effect of thoughtful advocacy. In my dealings with the Province instead of presenting issues and problems, I present the facts of our challenges and provide paths to solutions.
This was certainly true in the successful negotiation of reduced policing costs, the co-location of the ‘cafetorium’ and college in the new Sioux North High School, and the expansion of the airport terminal. So when I was asked to consider running for the Liberals in this election my consideration was whether I could I effect more positive change as an MPP than as Mayor. I believe I can.
Being a 30 year member of the Ontario Liberal Party, I believe strongly that this party is placing a fundamental emphasis on building an inclusive, progressive, and thriving Ontario.
(4) Experience: The MPP for Kiiwetinoong, perhaps more than any of the 124 ridings in the Province, will be best prepared to take on this role and most effective in it - if they have tested experience in government and the ability to balance the needs of the First Nations and our small towns.
My life and work experience prior to coming to Sioux Lookout involved working in diverse cultural settings with both local and national mandates. Having a business based Sioux Lookout, my work experience has taken me to most of the 34 communities in the Kiiwetinoong riding. The projects I worked on were in diverse sectors, including: schools, health care facilities, police and justice facilities, water treatment, subdivisions, arenas, housing, and more. The projects involved dealing with the four levels of government - Federal, Provincial, First Nation, Municipal – as well as the private and non-profit sector.
As Mayor of Sioux Lookout I have again worked successfully with the four levels of government. Through the Mayoral role, I stepped up to take on additional roles of regional decision-making and government advocacy, with the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB), the Kenora District Municipal Association (KDMA), Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA), Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), and the Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA). Seeking out roles with each of these organizations was part of my strategy to give Sioux Lookout a presence, a voice, and a platform at the tables where decisions are made.
I have been the representative for all municipalities on Ontario’s First Nation-Municipal Working Group on water treatment, bringing the group to meet in Slate Falls First Nation. I have also been a Board member on the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) and been part of successful advocacy for projects such as the 20-unit supportive housing project in Sioux Lookout.
As Mayor, I have taken an active role in the Recreation Committee, the Mayor’s Committee on Truth and Reconciliation, and the Police Services Board. During my time as Mayor I have continued and expanded the work of previous Councils related to the Friendship Accord (Sioux Lookout, Lac Seul, Slate Falls, Cat Lake, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Ininuwug) and the Four Party Agreement on health care (Federal, Provincial, Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, Municipality).
Qualities: It continues to be my belief that success in most endeavours revolves around respect, hard work, diligence, and always a sense of humour. The ability to listen, learn, and then undertake thoughtful action has been central to any success I have had both at the Council Table and dealing with people and agencies.
That was true with the recent Ministry of Attorney General Community Justice Centre project where it was through my consistent communication and advocacy with factual information that resulted in the 2018 Ontario Budget commitment to bring a satellite Community Justice Centre to Sioux Lookout.
A quality often overlooked which I think is critical in any leadership role, is being present – attending meetings and being an active contributor. My attendance record at Council, Committee, and outside Board meetings demonstrates that. This also holds for commitments made to people, I aim to make them and keep them.
(5) My commitment to the people of Kiiwetinoong is to help deliver more fairness and opportunity to the North.
My focus will be supporting:
Access to education, health care and child care
Housing availability and energy affordability
Construction of the grid connection and road access to remote communities
My plan and the plan of the Ontario Liberals is to ensure that real projects and necessary services are coming for the people that are counting on them. This means the Wataynikaneyap Power project, the four laning of Highway 17 from Kenora to the Manitoba border, more long-term care beds, health services for all our communities, an independent gasoline-price watchdog, and a doubling of Northern Ontario Heritage Funding Corporation’s (NOHFC) annual infrastructure funding.
Put simply, my plan means continuing the investment in priorities that Northern families need: better health care, reduced electricity rates, and more economic opportunity for every family.
(6) We need to improve our housing options. Right now Sioux Lookout needs more rental accommodation for individuals and families, assisted living residences for seniors and adults living with disabilities, and more housing options across all sectors. That is why as Mayor I initiated the Northern Housing Summit being hosted in Sioux Lookout in June 2018, to bring together employers, developers, planners, financiers and other key voices to work on recruiting more housing options for our community.
On healthcare we must continue pushing forward with the plan for long-term care beds, the investments in mental health resources, and a detox unit in Sioux Lookout. Sioux Lookout has good access to health care but we know that outside of local area, many people would benefit from medical care and community health services located to closer to them.
In regards to education, we need more training programs following high school offered in Sioux Lookout. For example there is a need for personal support and home care worker programs.
Another issue I hear about is affordability and the overall cost of living in the North. We need to do what we can to ensure that every day needs such as housing, energy, and gas are affordable.
(7) What do you see as being the Kiiwetinoong riding’s major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and how do you plan to address them?
Strengths: The land is beautiful and rich in resources. It gives us a quality of life and offers us options for economic development. We also have young population that need to be best trained to reach their individual potential and our collective potential.
My plan: To continue on the Ontario government’s recent path of developing these natural resources, hand-in-hand with the First Nations. We need to provide training programs to optimize our population’s employment.
Weakness: Rather than a weakness, our challenge is the remoteness of our area and the distance from the urban south. This makes delivering services to 35,000 people over one third of Ontario’s land mass challenging.
My plan: To support decisions that recognize the realities of service delivery in the North – including community-based expertise to enable local delivery of services throughout the region.
Opportunities: Our biggest opportunity is our region working together for our economic and social benefit on common issues and continuing on the path of reconciliation.
My plan: To support growing our region’s economic viability by embracing our unique position and ensuring Government-to-Government collaboration with First Nation communities.
Threats: In this election, there is a real threat of our community being disconnected from Queen’s Park, ignored, and losing the traction we’ve gained - with the risk of cuts to education and healthcare investments and the resulting job losses central to our local economy.
This threat could be realized in a government coming in that doesn’t understand the region - that is urban or south focused - planning to bulldoze areas to speed up developments.
Or it could take form in a representative that would continue the absent-while-on-duty type of representation that we have seen in recent years.
My plan: To be elected as MPP in order to be our designated voice to the provincial government and educate the decision makers on the commonalities, differences, and needs of our vast riding.
(8) There has been recognition by this provincial government that for the provincial government to work for Northern Ontario, it has to work with Northern Ontario.
We have made considerable traction in terms of awareness of and investment in our region, such as with the new long-term care beds at the Meno Ya Win Health Centre and the $222 million investment in the Ontario’s First Nations Health Action Plan, but there is a lot more to be done. This is a critical time for us. This new riding will help in giving our area the long overdue platform of representation that we deserve. I would like the opportunity to do this work with you and on behalf of you.
Clifford Bull – Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
Clifford Bull is the Chief and a Band Member of Lac Seul, an Ojibwe First Nation that is signatory to Treaty 3 and a member of the Independent First Nations Alliance. Bull is a successful public servant who has established a reputation for developing relationships between First Nations, Industry and Municipalities.
Bull served the community from 2000 to 2004 as a Band Councilor and 2004 to 2006 as a Social Worker on the Truth and Reconciliation file, supporting Residential School survivors to overcome obstacles and access supports. As a Residential School survivor himself, he understands reconciliation and healing.
Bull’s strong voice is accompanied by his wealth of experience and delivering results for those he represents. Fluent in Ojibwe and English. He has a proven track record of bringing communities and individuals together to achieve common goals.
As Chief, Bull has worked with Elders, Councils and Administrative Teams to take Lac Seul First Nation from third-party management to a local and regional economic engine that provides a shining example to other First Nations and communities. Bull achieved many successes, including the Whitefish Bay and Kejick Bay Causeways and roads, Obishikokaang Elementary School, the Events Centre, their forest management company, Obishikokaang Resources Corporation and many other joint ventures.
Bull is a recognized facilitator and architect of successful business ventures and partnerships. Bull was influential in the negotiations and signing of the first enhanced Sustainable Forest License (eSFL) in the Province of Ontario on the Lac Seul Forest.
Bull established alliances with other First Nations, Industry and neighboring Municipalities. He was instrumental in signing the Obishikokaang Collaboration Agreement between Lac Seul First Nation and Goldcorp. He helped lead negotiations that resulted in the signing of Shared Territory Protocol Agreements with Slate Falls, Cat Lake and Wabauskang First Nations.
For 12 years, he has been a Co-Chair of the Chiefs Committee on Health representing the Sioux Lookout Zone Chiefs. His ability to navigate difficult negotiations combined with his experience on the health portfolio; Bull was asked along with other First Nation Leaders tasked with starting discussions on health transformation. The task team is charged with developing a framework that will transform the way health services are delivered in First Nation communities by taking responsibilities away from the Federal and Provincial Governments and giving the decision-making power to Ontario First Nations. The new framework will allow First Nations to develop and implement their own health plans and avoid getting caught in government red tape.
Bull lives in Whitefish Bay with his wife Amelia (nee Brisket) with whom he has four children; Cynthia, Colin, Carrie and Ashley. Prior to entering public service, Bull also spent 15 years as co-manager of Mahkwa Lodge and holds a Certificate in Community and Economic Development from the University of Manitoba.
There are many unique issues facing our riding of Kiiwetinoong, a PC government will address and strive to seriously improve. Our five priorities are as follows:
1. Cleaning up the hydro mess, lowering your rates by matching the proposed liberal reduction by 25% with an additional 12% reduction, and letting go over the overpaid executives getting rich of your hard work. Therefore, seeing your rates reduced by 37%.
2. Putting more money back into the pockets of hard working Ontarians by scrapping the liberal carbon tax. Reducing the burden placed on your family and leaving your money in your pocket. The PC Part is the only party that will reduce gas by 10 cents/liter within the first budget.
3. Restore responsibility, ccountability, and trust. Supporting the Auditor General, and call in an outside Audit of the finances.
4. Creating good jobs by cutting taxes, red tape, and regulations. Not taxing those making under $30,000 per year and cutting the tax on a middle class family by 20%, keeping that money in your pocket. Developing our resources with proper consultation and accommodation of our Indigenous peoples.
5. Cut hospital wait times and support mental health with $1.9 billion in funding, along with increasing the number of long term care beds by 15,000 over the next 5 years. Letting doctors and nurses do their job without bureaucracy.
Here in the north we must develop our northern resources, including the Ring of Fire with complete First Nation, and stakeholder involvement from the onset. We must move forward with resource revenue sharing from forestry, mining and aggregates to help Northern Towns and Indigenous communities share in resource development.
Hunting and fishing is not just a hobby for us living in the north, it is a way of life. The PC Party is committed to ensuring that hunting and fishing revenues go toward their intended purpose of conservation.
Flying is not a luxury for those living north in the most remote communities; it is a necessity. An Ontario PC Government will reverse the 148% increase to the aviation fuel tax for all Northern airports.
I intend to support Indigenous rights. We have learned from broken treaties. I wanted to have the Indigenous voice heard at Queen’s Park where decisions are made. That has been lacking for too long. We need to change that. We need to have a voice from the North, not only for Indigenous people but for all Ontarians living here in the North. There is a lot of industry, a lot of wealth, in terms of minerals and resources. We need to ensure we get our share of those benefits and opportunities; and not all the wealth goes to the south.
We are offering the people of the North a clear choice from many years of a liberal government creating money, raising taxes, increasing hydro rates, and having jobs leaving our communities. We are a government that would bring relief to families and makes Ontario a place that is open for business again.
I have had people question my decision to represent the PC Party of Ontario in this election given the historically unhealthy relationships between Indigenous peoples and past governments, given that I myself am Indigenous.
I have a deep respect for my Indigenous brother and sisters who have faced a lot of oppression and colonization over many decades. Remembering and learning from all past governments mistakes so we do not repeat them is important and moving forward together toward healing and reconciliation is equally important.
Educating people in the south about our rich heritage, cultural values and history is fundamental in building respectful relationships and healthy communities. I will support projects, which are vital to creating prosperity and good health in our communities
I want to represent the PC Party in the newly established riding of Kiiwetinoong as I feel for far to long the North has been forgotten.
The Ontario PC Party is committed to improving the access to timely and quality healthcare, along with the addition of 15,000 long-term care beds over the next 5 years, with a total of 30,000 beds being added in 10 years within the province. This approach in health care sees our family members being cared for in the North and close to home.
Education and employment is a top priority for the PC Party, our youth are our future. I will work diligently to see education and employment opportunities for our youth here in the north. Meaning a healthy and thriving natural resources sector.
We work hard for our money, and keeping that money in your pocket is key to the PC Party’s plan. Not taxing those making under $30,000 each year, cutting middle class income tax by 20%, reducing the price of gas by 10 cents/liter, abolishing the carbon tax, and making life more affordable for every Ontarian.
I want to concentrate on healing and reconciliation with a strong focus on the future. We need to be focused on working together for the future. This PC Party is a new PC Party. It is a PC Party that is focused on the future and moving forward for all Ontarians, including the Indigenous peoples.
I have lived my entire life in Kiiwetinoong. I have travelled North to the furthest reaches of our riding in Fort Severn. I have met people all across our vast riding and have heard their concerns. I understand the richness of our land and the complex obstacles we face. As chief I consider those I represent my family, and I hope on June the 7th my family grows by 33,000 more.
I have proven with my EXPERIENCE as a leader, advocate, and citizen of this land that I can and will deliver RESULTS. When elected I will be your voice, a STRONG VOICE for the people of our rich land.
I wish all candidates the best in the 2018 Ontario Election and urge all voters to exercise their democratic right to vote on June 7, 2018.
Kenneth Jones – Northern Ontario Party
The Northern Ontario Party would like to introduce our Kiiwetinoong candidate for June 7, 2018 provincial election Mr. Kenneth Jones.
Kenneth Jones was born in Port Arthur and felt he wanted to step up to ensure the constituents had a Northern Ontario Party candidate they could vote for.
He is very passionate about ensuring Northern Ontario gets our equal treatment and be treated fairly no matter what part of Northern Ontario you are from. Kenneth agrees with ensuring the constituents get to have their say when it comes to voting to pass or introduce a bill.