Manitoba votes 2019 - Agassiz


The Neepawa Banner & Press has asked the area’s candidates their thoughts on several significant topics impacting their constituency. In the Aug. 30 edition of the paper, we featured Agassiz and Riding Mountain constituencies. Due to space constraints in the hard copy paper, some of the candidates' responses had to be condensed. Here, you can find the full responses from each Agassiz candidate.

What we asked the candidates:

1. What was the specific issue that inspired you to put your name on the ballot?

2. Why do you want to represent this constituency? And why do you want to represent your party?

3. What do you think is the biggest issue facing your constituency?

4. We’re teaching kids, are we teaching them what they need to know to be functioning members of society?

5. Manitoba is a diverse population, yet some groups (LGBTQ+, First Nations, immigrants, etc.) aren’t discussed. Do you think more focus needs to be put on education that is more inclusive of our province’s citizens?

6. How do you see rural health services changing over the next decade?

7. The perception in many rural communities is that they are left out when it comes to development. How do you define rural development and how would you support it?

8. What role can the province play in helping to address the rising cost of living facing those from the middle class down?

online-ClarkeEileenEileen Clarke

PC Party

About the candidate: Lifetime resident of Gladstone. Currently serving her first term as MLA of Agassiz and Minister of Indigenous & Northern Relations (2016-2019). Retired business owner of Clarke’s of Gladstone (33 years). Former Mayor of Gladstone (2006-2014). Former Vice-President of Association of Manitoba Municipalities.

Responses: 1. I’m seeking a second term to serve the residents of Agassiz so I can again be part of a dedicated PC Team that will continue the positive changes that have been achieved by the PC Party of Manitoba as set out in our first mandate to “Fix the finances, repair the services and rebuild the economy.”

2. I’m proud represent the constituents of Agassiz. Having worked as a business owner and municipal official in this area since the age of 18, I am familiar with past and current issues faced by residents, agriculture producers and the business owners. I also see the potential that exists within the constituency and I know the plans our government has for the province that will enhance the lives of people in rural Manitoba.

I choose to represent the PC Party because they work within the values that are important to myself, my family and the people I have represented in government the past the years. Our leader Brian Pallister made promises to the people of Manitoba in the 2016 election and those promises have been fulfilled. Trust and respect are important to me.

  • 3. I think the one biggest challenges we face in Agassiz is keeping our rural communities sustainable. There have to be services available so our seniors can age in place, young families can live where it’s affordable and all can have a lifestyle that meets their needs.  Families want quality education, available health care and recreation in a safe environment. This can be achieved and many of the PC Party’s commitments focus on these goals.
  • 4. In regards to education in Manitoba, the Education Review that is currently underway and will be completed in spring of 2020 will provide a direction that our government should take to provide our students the highest quality education possible to ensure their future success. This review is being conducted because Manitoba students were scoring poorly compared to students in other Canadian provinces. We want our kids to have every opportunity to realize their dreams and goals.
  • 5. Manitoba is for sure a very diverse province and we see that diversity in Agassiz Constituency as well. We have welcomed many foreign workers to our area as health care providers, truck drivers, employees at HyLife and many other businesses. They are respected citizens in our communities and fill many job vacancies to ensure services in our small communities can continue to operate. I’ve had a very positive three years as Minister of Indigenous & Northern Relations and also as Minister of Municipal Relations, working to create relationships based on trust and respect between First Nations and municipalities.  We now see joint projects and services taking place and this is a great start to additional partnerships. This is providing more affordable projects and better services for both municipalities and First Nations. The PC Party is proud to have the most diverse group of candidates ever to run in this 2019 Election.
  • 6. It’s difficult to determine what health care in Manitoba will look like in 10 years. The transformation that the PC Government has been working on for the past three years was long overdue: the former NDP Government had the report for the much needed changes and failed to do anything about it in their 17 years in power. The system in place was failing and costs were escalating without improving results; it was unsustainable. Change is not easy, especially when it affects patients, their families and those who are committed to providing quality care. The transformation that has taken place to date is working; recognizing that some plans had to be restructured to be successful. It is the goal of a Brian Pallister government to provide the best health services possible to all Manitobans at a sustainable cost.We truly believe we are on a path that will achieve that.
  • 7. I don’t agree that rural communities are being left out of rural development. I look around the Agassiz Constituency and I can highlight many successful communities and Neepawa tops the list. I also recently attended an event in Austin, where they announced their plan to build a 30 unit hotel. The success of rural development is dependent on the effort the residents of the community put into their plans and Austin is an outstanding example. I am excited about the new Economic Development Initiative that our government launched this past year. I sit as Vice-Chair of the Economic Development Committee of Cabinet and we know our Manitoba Economic Development Initiative will present many opportunities for any community or region that is willing to work in partnership to achieve their goals for growth and development. Our plan of Moving Manitoba Forward” is well underway.
  • 8. I think our PC Team Leader Brian Pallister has outlined clearly in the past few weeks what we have accomplished and will continue in a second term to address the cost of living facing those from the middle class down. There have been several initiatives already announced that will lower taxes for families, including eliminating PST on home insurance and personal care services. The 1 per cent PST reduction came into effect July 1, as promised during the 2016 election. We are committed to more jobs, better jobs and balancing the budget to eliminate the high cost of financing the debt. Manitobans work hard for their money and deserve to keep more of it.

I am committed to being a strong voice for Agassiz constituents and rural Manitoba, being available to meet with constituents and address local issues. Agassiz is where I live and I understand the importance of a sustainable future for all residents who choose to live, work and play in one of the friendliest and most beautiful regions of Manitoba.


online-Hector-SwansonHector Swanson

Liberal Party

About the candidate: Lives in Neepawa, MB. Currently retired.

Responses: 1. Health Care in the Agassiz region, in particular, a new hospital for Neepawa, is my top priority. Accessible health care that all residents have access to in their communities is important, especially for the ones who need it, such as seniors. Additionally, I would like to see improvements to the infrastructure in rural Manitoba overall. Roads across the province are needing major investment and better stewardship of water resources is needed. I want to help support a positive Education Review that includes more input from the grassroots and stakeholders. The teachers are the ones in the trenches and I believe they have the answers in what we need to do to improve education in the province. I disagree with the way the current education review is currently moving forward with further amalgamation. 

2. I want to represent Agassiz because it is where I was born, raised and live. I see the issues my friends, family and neighbours face day-to-day and believe I can make a difference as your MLA. 

The Liberal Party represents moderate opinions between the PCs and NDP.  It best fits my ideas and upbringing.

3. The biggest issue is always about getting value for your tax dollars. Most constituents I speak with tell me they don't mind paying taxes, but they values services for these taxes. The current government is reducing services and increasing taxes for the middle and lower classes. The current tax reductions favour the upper class. Unequal school and municipal taxes, particularly between the municipalities that were forced to amalgamate, are causing local governments many struggles. Everyone should pay their fair share of taxes in order to ensure the sustainability of the resources that can be provided in the communities. 

4. I believe that reading, writing and arithmetic are important in developing a basic foundation of skills. Computers are great, as well as all of the latest technology to complement these basic skills. However, I worry that we are losing the ability to socialize and communicate on a face-to-face basis. I see people texting and emailing to each other when they are sitting right next to each other. In order to develop functioning members of society, we need to develop students' adaptability. Employers want workers who can adjust and problem solve as society and jobs continue to evolve. 

5. Manitoba is a very culturally diverse province and we do very well with inclusion most of the time.  We are all created free and equal and should be allowed to live and practice our own cultural beliefs; as long as it doesn't impose on others rights. I believe schools in the Agassiz region are doing a good job with inclusion already. 

6. That is a fantastic question and depends greatly on the government that is in power. Even though health care is free, it is going to cost more to access it in multiple ways if we continue down the road we are going. It will cost your time, your hard earned money, your quality of life and maybe the life of a loved one if we continue cutting  and moving essential services further away. In rural Manitoba, we are geographically challenged for access to health services and consolidating them in rural areas may save money, but at what cost? Travel for the winter months can be treacherous in rural Manitoba. Many of our seniors who no longer drive are finding it harder and harder to access travel, especially in the rural areas without public transportation. I would like to see federal and provincial governments working together to provide citizens with excellent health care in rural areas. All residents in rural areas should be concerned.

7. Rural development differs from each community. It is the development of communities as a whole, the development of housing, business, amenities, services and, of course, people. I believe in supporting a "Shop Local" campaign in order to support the local resources and services we currently have in order to keep these services sustainable, as well as our communities. Education and health care are the two largest employers in most communities and we are looking at amalgaming these services regionally. That will affect jobs and business negatively. How many rural communities have been wiped off the map because of this exact reason. We need to halt these actions in order to protect our rural communities and way of life. Local businesses provide personalized service and contribute to the fabric of the community. Municipal councils need to take the lead in attracting small businesses with various incentives and information as to why a business should locate to a rural community.

8. First, stop amalgamation. It just doesn't work. There is proven to be no cost savings when you consider other factors. Additionally, each community is unique, with different needs. A hundred plus years ago, most communities established hospitals and health care facilities and it was called progress! Now we are closing all of these facilities, shrinking the communities and making everyday health care further away and more expensive to access. We also call this progress. Many people live cheque to cheque and struggle with the cost of living continually increasing. Many of my friends have even been forced to access food banks to make it to the end of the month. It is important for a government to provide tax breaks that support the lower and middle classes as opposed to providing them to the upper class. The time has come for the upper class to pay their fair share and it is the role of governments to do that.



online-Kelly-LegaspiKelly Legaspi


About the candidate: Born in Manila, Philippines. Resided in Winnipeg, Manitoba since coming to Canada in 2000. Currently working as a Registered Nurse with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority as a Hospital Based Case Coordinator of the Home Care Program.

Responses: 1. Through my direct experience as a nurse and as a patient, I can be the strongest voice for our community to fight the health care cuts and support the health care needs of our community and support the health care workers. 

As a community advocate, I will work to improve Social Services for people who need help, so they get the support they need to feel empowered and able to work, provide for their families to achieve an affordable quality of life. 

2. I believe the people of Agassiz need the voice of the NDP – we are a voice that will stand up for health care, good jobs and investments that keep life affordable. Brian Pallister’s PCs have made significant cuts to health care and their choices are making life more difficult to sustain for regular families. I know the NDP will make different choices that will help rural Manitoba grow and thrive.

3. The biggest issue facing Manitobans is the future of health care – Brian Pallister has chosen to cut millions from health care all across rural Manitoba. From closing EMS stations, to cancelling personal care home projects, to cutting rural doctor recruitment programs, Mr. Pallister has made choices that make it harder to get health care in rural Manitoba. The NDP have a plan to hire more nurses, invest in home care and build more care homes for seniors that will help strengthen health care in rural Manitoba. We know it is needed and the time for investment is now.

4. I have a Black Belt in martial arts and I’m an instructor for young people —  building determination, discipline, self-respect, and commitment. These are all qualities I am proud to give to our youth. Our young people need a strong foundation because they are the future of our province and our country. These are qualities I will bring to the fight in the legislature.

5. Absolutely. Education is very important in a community of diversity. We know the best way to make sure our province is an inclusive place is to educate our children about our history: the story of Indigenous peoples, of the various communities who have immigrated to Canada and the different groups who make up our society today. Education is the best way for all members of our society to feel welcome – and knowing our history, both the good and the bad, will strengthen our society for generations to come.

6. Accessibility. I would like to see more health services in the rural areas. Patients being treated closer to their homes and their families, instead of sending them to the city, which is more expensive to sustain. That requires investment in health care – while Brian Pallister is closing EMS stations and cancelling personal care home projects across rural Manitoba, the NDP has a plan to invest in health care by hiring nurses and investing in home care. That is the way we can sustain and grow rural health services for the future.

7. Rural Communities are sometimes left out and left behind when it comes to development. Development is the enhancement of the growth of the rural communities' economy by supporting their local livelihood, supporting families and engaging them in community projects that will open more jobs that will usher economic growth, as well as providing important services like health care for residents of rural Manitoba.

8. The Manitoba NDP has proposed a number of measures to keep life affordable for the middle class. We will make sure MB Hydro and MPI rates remain low. We will give first time home buyers $1,000 to help a little bit to offset the costs of a first home. And we will make tuition for post-secondary education – college and university – more affordable so young people and families can make sure students get the education and training they need. There is an important role for the province to help make sure cost of living remains affordable and we are committed to doing just that.




Liz Clayton

Green Party

About the candidate: I’ve been living on 31 acres of wildland just off the Agassiz Escarpment south-east of Rathwell for the past 14 years.  Before that, I spent many years in Winnipeg, in Old St. Vital and near Lockport. I was an “air force brat”, so we moved a lot in my youth, and I continued to travel as a young adult until I found a bit of land to call home. I currently work for the Prairie Spirit School Division as a high school Educational Assistant. I’ve done Arts Administration and spent many years in campus and community, and commercial media. I’m also into food security - we built an amazingly effective low-energy northern greenhouse, where we grow fresh greens all winter.

Responses: 1. I am very concerned about the way we have been managing our all resources - natural, human and economic. I am running to give the people of Agassiz a Green option on Sept. 10. 

2. The electoral boundary swooped south and gathered in Rathwell and Treherne, so I am now a resident of Agassiz.  It’s my “new” home!

The Green Party represents my own values - it is always difficult to change the way we do things, but we have to become better stewards of this earth and its inhabitants. Our top priority is to address the climate crisis, but we also have a Basic Income plan that will break the cycle of poverty and a comprehensive health care strategy that focuses on preventative, community-based health care. Our goals are realistic and achievable and we are willing to work with other parties to get the job done. 

3. I see three big issues. Many of our communities are dealing with depopulation and aging populations. I work in the education sector, with a shrinking school enrollment, and our human resources are already stretched to the max. There are fears that the Education Review that Manitobans participated in earlier this year was just a prelude to a pre-ordained outcome, and there will be even more cuts. The lack of public transit that occurred when Greyhound pulled out of Manitoba is a real hardship on so many levels and is one that we will address. The agriculture sector needs research and new technologies so it can reduce its impact on earth, air and water - the Green Party will help transition farmers to more sustainable practices. Potato acres continue to grow in Manitoba and that brings us back to the issue of clearing land, habitat loss and water usage. Wetlands are still being drained, the water table is dropping and I know of several families whose wells have gone dry.  

4. This one is close to home. As a high school EA, I see the work that the teachers do to get our students to learn. Critical thinking is a huge part of our humanities curriculum, and the background information students receive along the way broadens their horizons far beyond Google, Snap-Chat and home. There are factors outside the classroom - the ubiquitous social media and obsessive gaming, for example, that affects some students, and we are seeing more distraction, unrealistic expectations and depression. To create functioning members of society, we all have to be in on it and that includes schools, families, communities and even the media providers. I think it would be very helpful if “heroes and princesses” were depicted as valuing literacy and learning.  

5. From where I sit and see and listen, I am hearing a lot of discussion on these very issues. Most schools encourage open and inclusive spaces for all. School curriculum has been revised and the Indigenous story is now part of our education, from K -12 and even post-secondary, but it is just the story, and not shared intergenerational cultural knowledge and practices. We can do more work to include our diverse cultures and the way people learn. For example, my school has an excellent program that allows students who have fallen behind, often for cultural reasons, to tackle their unfinished units the next semester.  This stops the cycle of fail-and-repeat, but unfortunately, this program is in serious danger of being un-funded.  

6. I see that rural Manitoba enjoys a very personalized system of support as our population ages and moves in “off of the farm”.  Our seniors are not anonymous and they are not warehoused. But an aging population will require more support for independent living and more imaginative community care options, as even the volunteer base is aging. We need local, cooperative health care models, where communities have a say in what they need. Health services are already centralized for more complex diagnostics and there is rotating emergency services between communities, but we must ensure no reduction in these services. And because we do have to travel for critical care, lowering the carbon footprint of transportation must become a priority.     

7. I think we have to redefine what “development” is. Our cities are bursting at the seams, our smaller rural communities are shrinking and all the while there are people who dream of a little piece of land, but there is nothing to buy. In my area, there have been beautiful bits of wooded hillsides and riparian bush cleared for another bushel or two.In my vision of rural Manitoba, these “marginal lands” could be re-zoned for settlement, but our land use regulations and tax incentives still encourage the clearing of land for commodity farming, as if it was still 1870. 

8. The province works for all of the people of Manitoba, so we must consider the needs of everyone. Middle-class families need affordable and flexible child care.  The working poor need support for dental, vision, medicine and preventative health. These so-called “extras” are actually essentials, but are out-of-reach for minimum wage earners. Governments used to cooperate on affordable housing options, but the belief that private investors would become investors and providers has not happened. People need homes. And for those who rely on government assistance,we have a Basic Income Plan that does not stigmatize and penalize people, but encourages them to work and break the cycle of poverty.