For the upcoming federal election on Oct. 21, the Taber Times has done feature stories on each of the local candidates for the Bow River riding. Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts, the Times was unable to reach Green Party of Canada candidate Hendrika Maria Tuithof de Jonge or Liberal Party of Canada candidate Margaret Rhemtulla. The candidates are being presented in alphabetical order.
BOW RIVER Area: Counties of Taber, Vulcan, Newell, Wheatland, Rockyview and Kneehill, including Taber, Barnwell, Vauxhall, Lomond, Carmangay, Champion, Vulcan, Mossleigh, Milo, Carseland, Langdon, Chestermere, Irricana, Beiseker, Acme, Linden, Carbon, Rosebud, Rockyford, Standard, Strathmore, Hussar, Gleichen, Arrowwood, Hussar, Bassano, Rosemary, Duchess, Patricia, Tilley, Brooks and the Siksika First Nation.
Population: 115,022 Electoral history: Constituency created in 1917, elected Howard Halladay, Unionist (1917-21), Edward Garland, Progressive, then United Farmers of Alberta, then Commonwealth Co-operative Federation (1921-35), Charles Johnston, Social Credit (1935-58), Eldon Woolliams, PC (1958-68). Constituency then dissolved but re-created in 1979, electing Gordon Taylor (1979-88) and then dissolved again.
Bow River was created again in 2015, electing Martin Shields, Conservative (2015-present).
Candidates for Bow River riding: Hendrika Maria Tuithof de Jonge, Green; Thomas Ikert, People’s Party; Tom Lipp, Christian Heritage; Lynn MacWilliams, New Democrat; Martin Shields, Conservative.
People’s Party is Ikert’s type of conservatism
By Trevor Busch
Campaigning under the banner of the new People’s Party of Canada (PPC), Tom Ikert had become disillusioned with the direction of the Conservative Party under leader Andrew Scheer, driving him to seek out a brand of conservatism he believes is more aligned with western values.
The PPC candidate for Bow River is a journeyman carpenter who operates a general contracting business, and resides just outside Strathmore. Ikert currently serves as Division 4 councillor for the County of Wheatland.
“I was a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party, and I was a Maxime Bernier guy,” said Ikert. “When they elected Andrew Scheer, I just assumed it was ‘my guy didn’t win.’ And then the next day when Andrew Scheer took that drink of milk to thank the milk marketing board for all the votes, I thought that was a really cheap political move. But I thought ‘oh well, that’s fine and dandy, he’s young and inexperienced.’ And then he whipped his caucus into voting for the Paris Climate Accord. I’ve read that thing, and the only thing that can do is cost us in cold climates more money. And when your biggest neighbour, the Americans, aren’t involved with it — I just lost all my hope in the Conservative Party, so I walked away from the party.”
The PPC have committed to balancing the budget in two years and cutting taxes, encouraging investment and productivity growth, forging a new relationship with Canada’s indigenous people, and standing up for veteran’s rights, all promises that helped push Ikert into the PPC camp.
“About a year ago now, Max (Bernier) sent out an email saying he was starting a new party. I thought well what the heck, it’s going to be four or five years in the building, because we knew there was an election coming up. So I signed up and followed him and gave him some money, and then I got a chance to hear him talk, and I looked into what he has done. I’ve gone back 10 years on what he has done, and he has said the same thing for 10 years. His principles are the same. And that’s unheard of in a politician. So I decided that if I could win the candidacy for this riding, I’d run. So I put some of my money where my mouth is, because I think his vision of Canada is way closer to (mine) than anybody else’s vision of Canada.”
Ikert was scathing in his assessment of the record of Trudeau’s Liberals, while focusing on a need to get regular people involved in politics instead of what he terms the “political class.”
“They’re horrible. The thing that scares me is that 40 per cent of my fellow Canadians voted for him. It’s not just (Trudeau) — Justin is Justin — it’s the 40 per cent of the people that voted for him, those are the people I’m concerned about. He hasn’t changed unfortunately. He had a name, and has done nothing — that’s the state of politics. These guys practice, they train, to become politicians. They have no real life experience. I understand why it works that way. If you’re a carpenter, you don’t have all this time to stand up in front of people and make your points, and it’s very intimidating. I can understand why the people that should be doing this — the businessmen and that kind of stuff — I can understand why they don’t want to do this. But what we’ve done is we’ve allowed a political class — people who believe they should just become politicians with no real life experience, that does not work out very well.”
The PPC have also pledged to end Canada’s official multi-cultural status in favour of “preserving Canadian values and culture,” crack down on open borders and reduce overall levels of immigration while prioritizing skilled immigrants, and promoting pipelines. One key promise targets Canada’s equalization formula.
“The PPC has a very strong platform, and it’s very western-oriented,” said Ikert. “We’re going to renegotiate equalization. Equalization is mentioned in the Charter, but it’s not entrenched in the Charter. Equalization payments can be done just through Parliaments. Parliament can get together and say we are going to cut Alberta’s equalization in half. That can be done. The PPC has said they will renegotiate equalization.”
On the agriculture file, the PPC wants to replace supply management for dairy, egg and poultry farmers. Ikert believes the ag industry would benefit from stronger leadership.
“We’re in the heart of agriculture, and these guys are having a horribly tough time. Maybe a little bit better leadership would help. We could maybe take some lessons from Mr. Trump, because he just got the pork and the soybean tariffs lifted in China, but nothing’s happening in Canada. You wonder why that is, right? We could use some better leadership, I think that is the key thing.”
Other PPC policies promise less alarmism on the environmental front, eliminating internal trade barriers, dealing with wait times and rising costs in health care, and respecting firearm ownership. Ikert’s vision for the party is to capture enough seats in Parliament on Oct. 21 to serve as a more thoroughly conservative conscience of the House.
“Smaller government — get the federal government out of everything that they’re in. That would be a start, and that’s one of our platforms. We need a counterbalance. We need a strong conservative voice, and I think that’s what the PPC is. I think you’d have to be crazy to assume the PPC is going to win a majority, but we need enough PPCs to hold the CPCs (Conservative Party of Canada) from going too far left. The Conservative Party is going down a road where they’re veering a little bit left, and we need at the very least the PPC with a few members in there just to steer them right, to give a little old tug on that steering wheel.”
Rural voters line up with CHP principles; Lipp
By Trevor Busch
Seeking the favour of Bow River voters in the Oct. 21 election, Christian Heritage Party (CHP) candidate Tom Lipp desires a return to traditional Judeo-Christian values in public policy, including promoting the right of life from conception to natural death.
A financial planner and accountant who hails from the Langdon area, Lipp has lived in the riding for over 16 years. Lipp feels the record of the Trudeau Liberals is one of failed policies and legislation that will be difficult to undue in the future.
“On a scale of one to 10, I’d give them about a two. I’m very dissatisfied with them. The Liberals have a majority, and they’ve made so many mistakes it’s not even funny. I think it’s going to be difficult to undue the results of some of the policies and the legislation that’s been passed. And so this concerns me greatly, and that’s the reason why I’m entering the fray.”
In their platform, the CHP are targeting replacement of the Indian Act, development of a national food strategy, reform of the Bank of Canada to allow for low or interest free loans to various levels of government, strong opposition to a carbon tax, and defunding or privatizing the CBC.
Lipp believes the CHP’s policies hold an attraction for rural voters.
“I love rural voters, perhaps even more so than urban voters, because — no pun intended — they’re closer to the grassroots, they’ve got their feet on the ground, they understand the realities of life. Sometimes people in the city are a bit disconnected from harsh realities and live in bit of dreamworld. I love rural voters because I think they’re more down to earth.”
One of the key beliefs of the CHP is opposition to the practice of abortion, and Lipp wants federal parties to re-open the debate in Parliament.
“Life. That is to say, we believe in natural deaths, and we’re very much pro-life in terms of we want to protect the baby, and also the mother, and also families that want to adopt children — there’s many families that want to adopt children that cannot, because the children are not around. Canada has immigration problems partially because we control our own supply, so to speak, of Canadians. So we would like to see abortion defunded rather than defended. And we’re very upset with all of the major parties because even though 61 per cent of Canadians — some quote as high as 80 per cent of Canadians — want Canada to have an abortion law, the big parties are squashing the possibility of a debate on the floor of the House of Commons.”
The CHP would crack down on illegal immigration, initiate pension reform, pay off the national debt and introduce mandatory balanced budgets. Lipp and the CHP are also opposed to any gender definitions other than male and female.
“The CHP is trying to bring back the basic of good government to our government, and so one of the major goals is freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, and we would fight against steps such as Bill C-16. What Bill C-16 does is make it essentially illegal for me to say that there’s only two genders, male and female. I call it the ‘gender confusion’ bill. Unfortunately, Martin Shields voted in favour of the gender confusion bill. He broke ranks with the Conservatives and supported a bill that was initiated by an NDP backbencher.”
Electoral reform, enhanced accountability and transparency in government, and opposition to gun control rounded out some of the CHP’s platform. Lips also wants to help strengthen family values for Canadians.
“One of the things the CHP would do is work to strengthen the traditional family unit, and strengthen marriage. We are very concerned that big “G” government really squashes individual freedoms, and individual liberties, and the enjoyment of life.”
Lipp has heard strong condemnation of the Trudeau Liberals throughout the riding from potential voters in Bow River.
“Intense dissatisfaction with Mr. Trudeau. They can’t say enough bad things about him…the problem is you have people that are eloquent, and make a good image on the camera, and they’re intelligent and well spoken, but the problem is a lack of wisdom to give a prosperous, long-term future for our country. So that’s what I’m running against.”
Lipp argues the conservatism being offered by the Conservative Party of Canada is an off-brand variety, while what the CHP offers is the real deal.
“I would say that lukewarm conservatism is too timid. Lukewarm conservatism is not strong enough to turn the ship around. Lukewarm conservatism is inadequate. You need strong, well-rooted conservatism in principles that are timeless. The great truths are too important to be new, so we need to get back to the basics of good government.”
Lipp also wanted to draw voter’s attention to several YouTube videos he has posted on freedom, family and life, which can be found by searching Tom Lipp Bow River.
Environment/health care important to MacWilliam
By Greg Price
Lynn MacWilliam is making her bid once again to garner the Member of Parliament seat for Bow River in the upcoming federal election on Oct. 21.
MacWilliam is running again under the New Democratic Party banner as she did in 2015, when she was able to garner over 2,600 votes.
“I really do enjoy campaigning and being a candidate. I loved meeting people throughout the campaign. It’s a very big riding and I’ve put a lot of kilometres on my little car,” said MacWilliam with a chuckle. “I’ve worked on many, many different campaigns for people and when I go to a stranger’s door to knock, I thought one of these years I’ll do it for myself. The experiences I’ve had have helped me a lot.”
MacWilliam lives in Bassano, having moved from Ottawa in 2012 where she worked on Parliament Hill for different members of Parliament, with the latest being MP Linda Duncan from Edmonton-Strathcona.
A former town councillor, MacWilliam is serving on boards of various organizations when she is not enjoying her federal campaigning and her family which features three children, four grandchildren and one great grandchild.
She added the current Liberal government has let a lot of families down.
“They have their platform, but they never seem to follow through on anything. For myself personally, one of the biggest things is climate change. It is really something we all have to be concerned about,” said MacWilliam. “During the provincial election, I supported the TMX (Trans Mountain Expansion) and I still do because it was a twinning of a pipeline that already existed, so it didn’t go through any new pristine areas.”
In helping with climate change, MacWilliam paid homage to the previous NDP provincial government, saying they did a lot to diversify the economy and in bringing in renewable energy initiatives.
“We have to realize that oil and gas is not renewable. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It may be 100 years from now, it may be 50 years from now, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. Let’s start thinking about the future and bringing in renewable energy so we can adapt and get the bugs out in that regard,” said MacWilliam. “We eventually have to wean ourselves from oil and gas at some point.”
The Bassano resident noted while climate change and stances on immigration can be seen as separate issues, they can be intertwined as well.
“I know there are some parties trying to stop immigration into Canada with refugees. What are we going to do with environmental refugees? Like say the Bahamas. Their country is literally under water,” said MacWilliam. “What are we going to do with these people? Are we going to say sink or swim? Are we going to say serves you right for living on an island? We have our own coastal area, we have to really start considering the future instead of living in the past. I know it’s going to be hard with how much we use oil and gas, but it’s not going to be here forever.”
Along with climate change, health care is another issue that needs to be put at the forefront of Canadian politics for MacWilliam.
“When Tommy Douglas brought it in, he wanted to expand it to dental care, pharmacare and vision care,” said MacWilliam. “The NDP has a good, good plan in place to bring that into being. The infrastructure is already there. People are spending a lot, a lot of money on their medications with seniors. Everybody in Canada is affected by healthcare.”
Shields bringing local issues to federal level
By Greg Price
Martin Shields is vying for a second term as Member of Parliament for the Bow River Riding, as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, for the 2019 Federal Election later this month.
Politics is nothing new for Shields who has served right down to the municipal level as a town councillor/mayor for Brooks in an institution that was important to the family roots.
“I grew up in a family that was around the newspaper and who wanted to know what was happening in the world in the news. It was something that was talked about in our family, be it around the dinner table or whatever else. News and politics was something my parents paid attention to,” said Martin Shields, who is looking to be re-elected as the Conservative candidate when the federal election rolls around on Monday, Oct. 21. “My father took us to the legislature in Edmonton when I was 10. We went to Ottawa a year later. He thought it was important to meet the people who make the decisions for us. It was something that was always there for our family.”
With a political science degree in hand, Shields would go on to be a school teacher and administrator for 30 years before eventually becoming mayor of Brooks back in 2007 before resigning his position after becoming MP in a successful 2015 election bid.
Along the way, Shields would volunteer for constituency associations both provincially and federally, and also be a vice-chair of the health region in southern Alberta.
With his door knocking for the 2019 election, Shields is hearing a common refrain of people asking about the process in how it can lead to meaningful change.
“The thing I say to people when I door knock is I want them to vote. If you are supporting me, of course I like that, but if not, that’s OK too. I’ve come across some cynicism out there with people saying ‘what difference will it make?’ But we can’t let cynicism take over, because if we do, then we are heading to a future with real problems where demagogues can take over,” said Shields.
Shields stressed that if he were to be re-elected, while it is a federal post, he wants to ensure the local issues are always intertwined in terms of importance.
“I represent my constituents. The issues they have I try and stay informed by various means. If people have specific challenges or problems that I can help with at my level, I will. If it’s not my level, then I need to direct them to maybe provincial, or municipal,” said Shields. “But, I need to help anyway I can to where they need to resolve specific issues. Whether you are talking Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green, you need to be looking at the needs of the people that elected them.”
Shields added part of the cynicism of modern politics is politicians promising the world to its voters, where it should be things that are attainable in specific time frames.
“I have said I will work as hard as I can in things we need to do. I will not promise you something I can’t do. I can talk about ideas to pursue to reach a goal. Because if people start promising things they can’t do, that leads to cynicism. I can talk about policies in generalities, but I can’t promise that I’m going to double your pension for example,” said Shields. “I tell people, there’s a lot of smart people in the world and I look for the smart people to tell me the answers I need to find for people. I sure don’t know everything, but I know there’s people who know things in certain areas as experts and you have to seek out those people.”
With municipal politics, you are very close to the people, where Shields foray into federal politics starting in 2015 had Shields traveling the countryside with 60 different communities in his riding alone.
“I go to community events, attend roundtables, I’ve door knocked in communities, but you still can’t get to everyone. That’s one of the challenges at the federal level. You want to be connected as you can be to people, but it’s very, very hard,” said Shields.
In his door knocking, Shields has sensed frustration among constituents that Alberta is getting the short end of the economic stick when it comes to the current Liberal majority government.
“The resource sector has suffered and a lot of people have suffered because of it. They don’t have a job, or they know someone who has lost a job,” said Shields. “I’m also hearing from seniors of how tough it is economically with the challenges they have. In our ag sector, we have the most phenomenal, innovative, efficient sector in the world, yet the major urbans are hammering them for what they are doing with something they don’t understand and I’m hearing that.”
And while Shields promised to fight as hard as he can for his constituents on Parliament Hill if elected for Bow River, he noted, everyone should take an active stake in self-determination for their future.
“I’ve had some really positive comments from people form the ag sector saying thanks for speaking on our behalf. I can do what I can, but people have to understand we are in a different world now with social media and people taking pictures of everything and everybody creating this false narrative about the ag sector. We have to work together to change that narrative,” said Shields.
Shields has been thankful for the last four years in serving his Bow River constituents, learning more about each community while attending their unique events.
“There’s lots of proud people here that just want to do the best that they can do,” said Shields. “It’s been a real privilege. I’m one of only one of 338 people (MPs) in this country doing this job. I thank the people who have supported me all these years and it’s a phenomenal riding. It’s been an honour to do it for the last four years, and I’d like to do it some more.”