Manitoba Votes 2016 - Meet the candidates in the Agassiz constituency


By Banner Staff

The Neepawa Banner

This week, we asked the candidates about their previous experience in politics and why they wanted to represent their party. Over the next few weeks, we will ask the candidates for their take on certain topics that concern rural Manitobans. 


Name: Eileen Clarke

Home: Gladstone

Party: Progressive Conservative

Occupation: Entrepreneur and community activist

Previous political/leadership experience: I worked and volunteered within my community, was a member of Gladstone Legion Ladies Auxiliary, current member of Gladstone Legion #110 and was an active member of the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce for more than 30 years. I was co-chair of fundraising for the construction of our internationally recognized Happy Rock.

I won the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Impact on Local Economy in 1998 and Woman of Distinction in 2000. 

After retiring as owner of Clarke’s of Gladstone, I was acclaimed Mayor of the Town of Gladstone and served two terms. During that time I was Midwestern Director for the Association of Manitoba Municipalities from 2010-2014.  Within the position I represented and lobbied on behalf of all 197 municipalities in Manitoba.  It also gave me the opportunity to meet regularly with all councils and listen to their issues and challenges; then meet with government to present resolutions from our members. 

Why did you want to run for the PC Party?: “I am proud to represent the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Team.  Agassiz is a diverse and growing region in our province; our strong recreation, business and agricultural base provides endless opportunities for economic development.

 I am committed to working with councils, agricultural producers, businesses, health care providers, educators and residents to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for all residents.”



Name: Damian Dempsey

Home: Arden

Party: Independent

Occupation:  Cattle farmer with a cow/calf operation. He also works full time for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as a meat inspector at  the HyLife plant in Neepawa, though he is currently on leave without pay while campaigning.

Previous political/leadership experience:  Chairman of local farmers’ association in Cornwall, England; Safety rep for CFIA staff at HyLife;  Active in Parent/Teacher Association in England and advocated with other parents for keeping local school open in Arden; Trustee at St. Dominic’s Church in Neepawa, active member of Finance Committee and Parish Council.

Why did you want to run as an independent?: “I don’t see myself as a political insider; I have spent my time building up my farm and working a full-time job.  I have always taken an interest in politics and identify with conservative values on the political spectrum,  but feel that as an independent I can better represent the interests of the people in this constituency.  

Having spent over 22 years here as a farmer, parent and worker, I have heard what is on the minds of the voters here– many of the same things that I feel need to be addressed. I see my policies as practical and common sense, taking the rural population’s interests into account, while the policies of the large parties seem geared to Winnipeg’s interests. 

Our votes and tax dollars are taken for granted, but our interests are often ignored. Running as an independent gives me the freedom to create a platform that includes local issues as well as province-wide concerns.”



Name: Robert F. Smith

Home: Edrans

Party: Green Party

Occupation: Organic mixed farmer

Previous political/leadership experience: Starting in 1982, served 20 years as a school board trustee. Has been actively involved in volunteering since his days in 4H.  He has been involved in a number of local organizations, including the the Edrans Community Centre and Edrans Cemetary, as well as the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Manitoba Agricultural Museum and Gladstone Legion. He has also sat on the board of the Organic Producers Association of Manitoba 

Why do you want to represent the Green Party?: “I’ve met a lot of people, and Kate [Storey] in particular, who have talked a lot about the Green Party. It seems to mesh a lot with my thinking. You want to do sustainable activities…The Green Party is based on a sustainable type of industry, sustainable type of farming… We can’t go to the horse and buggy days…that’s not the Green Party. But there’s alternatives.”

There is a lot of concern, we are using more chemicals than we require? Can we just use the minimal? Are we using the safest product for the environment, not just using the cheapest products?” 

 If we make better decisions, like planting wind breaks and not knocking down those trees and leaving riparian areas. It’s a different thinking.”

“Is globalization the best thing for us? What are we doing in agriculture? Should we be  leaving more trees by the creeks so that they soak up all that fertilizer before it gets into the creeks?… It’s not complicated ideas.“