We deserve better than phantoms

We now know the six candidates who are vying to be the member of Parliament for Souris-Moose Mountain in the upcoming federal election.

Robert Kitchen, the Conservative who was elected to a first term as MP in 2015, will be challenged by Javin Ames-Sinclair of the Liberals, Ashlee Hicks of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Judy Mergel of the Green Party, Travis Patron of the Canadian Nationalist Party and Phil Zajac of the People’s Party of Canada.

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The Liberals and the NDP had to go outside of the constituency for their candidates. The NDP opted for Hicks, who now resides in Saskatoon but at least used to live in the riding. You have to wonder if someone in Saskatoon, with a job and a family, will be able to put in anywhere close to what should be the minimum amount of work for a federal election candidate in a rural riding like this.

The Liberal candidate is Ames-Sinclair. As of Monday afternoon, the party has yet to post any information about him on their website. Hopefully he won’t be just another phantom Liberal candidate in Souris-Moose Mountain.

As for the others, Mergel lives just outside the riding’s boundary in Willow Bunch. Greens have typically had pretty good candidates in Souris-Moose Mountain, including Bob Deptuck in the last three elections, despite a platform that is not friendly to Souris-Moose Mountain.

Given party leader Elizabeth May’s plan to essentially destroy the Canadian energy sector as we know it, you have to expect Mergel will be in for a rough ride in the debates.

Patron, who is the leader and founder of the nationalist party, is one of three candidates for his party in the election. His beliefs certainly don’t align with the majority of Canadians, or the majority of people in Souris-Moose Mountain for that matter. Many believe he shouldn’t be on the ballot in the first place. 

The People’s Party of Canada’s Phil Zajac was the second candidate to be nominated. At least he’s been trying and promoting himself by attending community events and by opening a campaign office in Estevan. Don’t be surprised if Zajac has one of the best results outside of Quebec for the fledgling party.

You might not agree with the party’s policies or the conduct of its leader, but in Souris-Moose Mountain, they have a candidate who’s willing to try.

Kitchen has done a pretty good job of representing this constituency as its MP. He has kept his nose clean, and hasn’t given Tory critics much ammunition. He has also become a strong advocate for the energy sector in the face of an accelerated phase-out of conventional coal power and the continued struggles in the oil and gas industry.

He also has the proverbial incumbent’s advantage.

It’s tough being a candidate in Souris-Moose Mountain. Ever since the hotly contested 2004 election, which was won by the Tory’s Ed Komarnicki over independent candidate (and former premier) Grant Devine, voters in this constituency have served up one lopsided victory for the Conservatives after another.

The 2006 vote saw Komarnicki win with 62.8 per cent of the vote. The Tories have since captured at least 70 per cent of the vote in each of the last three elections.

The Tories have a message that resonates with rural voters, particularly in the energy, mining and agriculture sector.

You aren’t going to win a lot of voters in a riding like this if you back a carbon tax.

But when you get lopsided election result after lopsided election result, it makes it difficult for the other parties to field credible candidates. Why would an intelligent, competitive and hard-working aspiring politician put in a lot of effort if they’re going to get 15 per cent of the vote, at best? Their defeat will be in the papers and on the Elections Canada website forever.

The people of this riding deserve to have candidates who will door knock and show up at the debates and engage people in this riding, rather than just be a name on the ballot so they can stroke an item off of their bucket list.

We deserve better than phantom candidates.

Is a little competition too much to ask?

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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