Robert Kitchen, Vicky O’Dell, Steven Bebbington, Bob Deptuck

Candidates in final stretch

October 13, 2015 8:09 am
Kevin Weedmark

All four candidates in Souris-Moose Mountain say they will be working hard to meet voters and get their message out in the last few days of the campaign.

Voters will go to the polls Monday to elect a new federal government.

Conservative candidate Robert Kitchen said he is happy with how the campaign has gone.

“It’s been very good—I’ve managed to get everywhere in the riding twice,” he said. “It’s a big riding, so it’s very tough to be anywhere for any length of time, but I’ve been getting out to see people and we’re geting a lot of support.”

Kitchen, an Estevan chiropractor, campaigned part-time through the summer and has been on the campaign trail full time since the beginning of September.

What is he hearing from voters at the door?

“The economy is a big thing,” he says.

“There are people who are nervous of what would happen if the NDP were to win. They’ve been through that experience provincially.”

He said voters are worried about the economy. “With the slowdown in the economy around the world, it’s having an impact. We see it here with the oil. We have a very strong work ethic in Souris-Moose Mountain, and that will get us through, but resource extraction has slowed down with oil.”

Kitchen said pipelines has been an issue among voters in the Moosomin area.

“Up in your area we are hearing about that,” he said. “It is something the community supports and we support that. We want to see that go forward with the proper review. The Conservative government is very supportive.”

In the last few days, he says the TPP has been raised by voters.

“There have been a lot of comments on the TPP—people are very favorable on that.”

Kitchen plans to pour a lot of energy into the campaign in the coming days.

“Every day it’s up at 7 and to bed at 10 and out and about and talking to people till we get down to the wire,” he said.

New Democrat Vicky O’Dell says the campaign has been going well so far.

“Of course there’s a Conservative component, but I’ve met a lot of people this time who say they’re just not sure who to vote for this time.

“When I’ve canvassed before . . . in provincial elections, people are quite certain how they’re voting when you go to the door. That’s my experience. I find this different.

“I’ve had ‘why did Steven Harper run again?’ That’s a comment that’s out there. I’ve had a couple of calls, not a whole lot of calls, but a couple of calls from Conservatives who are changing their vote.”

O’Dell says she has been all through the riding, and in the days leading up to the vote will be focusing on Moosomin, Estevan, and Weyburn.

“I’ll be focusing on the larger communities. I’m going to be in Moosomin for a couple of days in the final week, and then I’m going to be going to Estevan from Moosomin, and then Weyburn, and I’m going to close it off on Sunday with a fall supper at the Anglican Church in Weyburn, that will be my last event.”

What issues are voters raising with her?

“When they talk to me, First Nations is an issue, health care is an issue, and the plan for jobs. A lot of people are talking about oil and the price of oil. People are hoping their communities aren’t affected by this, because you know what happens, after a little while, people start to leave, they don’t wait around forever. The mood is a little bit down. I think it would be different if the price of oil was up and people were feeling secure with their jobs.

“So they are interested in hearing about jobs and our plan for jobs.

“And seniors, I hear that a lot, what are you going to do for seniors, and we do have a plan for seniors as well.”

O’Dell says she has been getting some questions about Energy East, and said the NDP is in favor of the pipeline.

“It comes up all the time. My response is always the same. The NDP is not opposed to Energy East. In fact we are in favor of Energy east. But we do believe we have to do proper environmental assessments and along the way there are challenges.

“When we meet those challenges, we have to have proper discussion with those people along the way and hopefully be able to get them on board. But it’s hard to get past those areas that are saying ‘no, it’s not going to happen on my watch,’ and everyone’s going to have to deal with that, and Harper hasn’t been successful with getting past those blocks. He hasn’t got one pipeline going, so we know that his track record isn’t very good. So I think if people are really interested in getting things moving, the only way to do that is to elect another government. It’s not going to happen with this Harper government.”

O’Dell said she is looking forward to the election.

“I came in with zero expectations, so my expectations have been raised in various places, but who knows on voting day what people will do,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to election night. My goal was to bring up the numbers. I didn’t in the beginning of this ever think of winning. I do have to say winning has crossed my mind a couple of times along the way, and you know that would be pretty amazing. But in the event that doesn’t happen, I would like to see the NDP vote come up. That would make me happy.”

Liberal candidate Steven Bebbington lives in Earl Gray, north of Regina, but managed to get into the riding to do some campaigning in communities along Highways 33 and 48.

“I managed to get to the towns along the northern boundary of the riding—Weyburn and towns along Highway 48, anything I could access,” he said.

What did he hear on the doorstep?

“I heard some concerns about health care and how that’s going to work here in the future for seniors and veterans,” he said.

He said the campaign has been a learning process for him.

“I got to learn so much about the process,” he said.

“You get a better appreciation once you get a chance to take part in it yourself. What the party has been able to teach me has been awesome.

“I’ve had some amazing conversations with people in the towns that I visited, and learned so much, and I’m very grateful for it.”

He said he will try to get to more communities in the riding in the days before the election.

“We’ll see what happens here,” he said. “There are a few people further south than I’ve been able to travel. They’ve contacted the party, and some have gone out and spoken to people in the communities, which I appreciate.

“I’ll be going to Francis on the weekend, where my grandfather and my grandmother live.

“My grandpa likes to give me a hard time. He’s a Conservative voter. He said he would support me, but he would hassle me all the way through,” Bebbington says with a laugh.

He said a Liberal government would approve the Energy East pipeline project only if environmental, community, and stakeholder concerns are reasonably addressed.

“In approaching any resource projects, the federal government has a crucial responsibility to balance economic development, energy security, environmental, and socio-economic factors.”

Bebbington said running for office has awakened an interest in him.

“It’s definitely ignited an interest for me.

“My interest began with my CUPE work, but expanding into this with the Liberal Party and everything I’ve learned, it’s very intriguing, and I’m super excited to continue taking part in it.

“I’m not sure if I will take part in the next federal election, but I’ll definitely look into the provincial election that’s coming up and I’m currently looking to move, so if I find a community that’s looking for a mayor or someone for town council I’ll definitely put myself out there because this is something I would very much like to build on.”

Green Party candidate Bob Deptuck said he is happy with how the campaign has gone so far.

He said he has been able to campaign more extensively than in previous campaigns.

“I’ve heard a lot of support for some of the policies that we have, which is excellent,” he said.

“We’re a pretty conservative riding, but from what I’ve heard a lot of Conservative people are disappointed. Disappointed that their party has done so poorly and the scandals and such.

“I think we’re going to see a drop off in Conservative voting, just because of all the trouble they’ve been in, and an uptick in voting for the Green Party because of it.

“A lot of people are becoming more and more informed about what’s going on, and they’re disappointed that government is operating so poorly.

“The economy has been the number one issue and we’ve seen a lot of smokescreen about surplus budgets and deficit spending and things like that, and I think people are starting to see through the numbers to the real problems. Government is just not functioning very well, and people are ready for a change.”

Deptuck says the Green Party has a clear stand on pipelines, such as the proposed Energy East.

“Myself and the Green Party both feel we are shipping away our jobs. The pipelines are just piping away our money and jobs.

“If we started adding value processing in our own country, then we can become energy self-sufficient. We don’t need to ship our oil away.

“Not only do we oppose it for that reason, we oppose it for the potential environmental problems it could cause. We can see the ignorance from the Conservative Party, where one of their candidates comes out and says oil spills are okay because the ground will soak it up. That blows my mind that there’s that ignorance running for our government. How many more of their candidates have to stick their foot in their mouth before we realize they are the wrong people to be running this country, the wrong people to protect our environment and our economy?

“We’re spinning the dice when it comes to big pipelines, especially with the heavy bitumen coming from Alberta.

“Let’s put more money into green energy and green technology instead of piping away our jobs.”

Deptuck has run for the Greens in previous elections, and may run again in the future. “I’m still willing to stand up and speak for what I believe and what I believe the country is in desperate need of—a big change.”