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People in rural areas say they don’t want empty promises from provincial election candidates
As political candidates hit the streets for the first full week of the provincial election, here's what people in Newfoundland and Labrador say matters to them most.
As we did in Saturday's Telegram, we called a random sample of people from all over the province and asked them what concerns they have and what issues they would like to see candidates address.
Here is how they responded.
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Millie Clarke of Croque, a small town on the Northern Peninsula, says politicians have forgotten about issues in rural communities.
“Our road is just a mess, not fit to drive over. Potholes, and can’t get a bit of gravel on it,” she said. “They’re not looking out for those communities at all.”
With no water and sewer service, the 76-year-old says she still has to get her water from a brook, but that freezes over in the winter.
“That’s something they could do for those small communities, they could put in artesian wells or something for those people,” she said. “(But) they got us forgot altogether.”
Jennifer Keefe shares a similar sentiment. A resident of Black Tickle, a small island on the east coast of Labrador, she says it’s like they are left in the dark.
Transportation and food shortages are priorities for her.
“It’s hard to get out of here and it’s hard to get in here, and it’s hard to get food here,” she said. “They’ll make all these promises to us and then nothing follows through. It’s frustrating.”
On the other side of Labrador, in Labrador City, Baxter Ollerhead said a road to the north coast needs to be built.
“I’ve got a lot of friends on the coast. They’ve got no way out of it,” he said.
“They’ll make all these promises to us and then nothing follows through. It’s frustrating.” — Jennifer Keefe
Some of those friends struggle with addiction. And with air, boat and snowmobile travel the only way in or out, it can be difficult to access services they might need. He’d like to see a road from Rigolet to Nain, he said.
On the west coast of Newfoundland in Rocky Harbour, the cod fishery is top of mind for Dwight Sparkes.
Sparkes lived in Ontario for 35 years, but moved back to Newfoundland a couple of years ago. His brother also lives in Rocky Harbour and has worked in the fishery his entire life, he said.
“There should be more done to protect the cod, like the culling of seals,” he said. “It’s the seals that’s killing the cod industry, so that should be addressed, and it’s never addressed.”
In Hodge’s Cove, a community about 40 kilometres southeast of Clarenville, Susan Seaward says the coming and going of family physicians often leaves residents without a doctor.
“We seem to get a lot of doctors, but they don’t stay,” she said. “Then when they leave, their patients are all scattered about looking for a new doctor.”
She says the government also needs to be more transparent with the province’s finances.
“(I would like to know) how they’re spending our money, what our tax dollars are going toward and how much we pay the public servants,” she said.
Madelyn Kelly had a veritable laundry list of issues she thinks the government could better address.
Kelly, a teacher living in Happy Valley/Goose Bay, says the COVID-19 pandemic has acted like a culling of the planet and is giving nature a chance to revive itself.
“This global warming thing is real,” she said. “We need a government that talks seriously about waste.”
She says banning plastic bags is strange when many other items come wrapped in plastic.
“These are contradictions to the people, and big contradictions,” she said.
The Muskrat Falls Inquiry was a total waste of money, she says, and she wishes politicians would make better use of tax dollars.
“In my opinion, and it’s very humble, a politician can do what he wants now, and we pay the lawyer to defend him,” she said.
Kelly also wants to see leaders committed to increasing the minimum wage, and hopes people never lose appreciation for front-line workers such as the Dominion employees who were on strike from Aug. 22 to Nov. 13.
Other notes from the campaign trail Sunday:
• Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance Leader Graydon Pelley had to suspend his election campaign this weekend due to a medical issue.
A news release stated Pelley, the party’s candidate in Humber-Gros Morne, suffered a medical emergency Saturday evening and was taken to hospital for further examination, where it was determined he needed emergency surgery.
“We certainly wish Graydon the best, and he and his family are in all of our thoughts today,” Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance president Rudy Norman said.
“The work of NL Alliance is so important to Graydon and I know missing out on that while facing this challenge is adding to his discomfort. However, his health is what’s most important now, and no one disagrees with that.”
All other Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance candidates will continue their campaigns, and nominations in districts without candidates are still open until deadline.
Andrew Furey, who is also running in Humber-Gros Morne, tweeted, "Sorry to hear @gepelley has to suspend his campaign for medical reasons. Hoping he and his family are doing as well as can be, and that he has a speedy recovery."
• The Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador said Sunday it has nominated a full slate of 40 candidates for the 2021 general election campaign.
• The Liberal party on Sunday opened nominations for the district of Lake Melville. The incumbent in the district is Perry Trimper, a former Liberal MHA and cabinet minister who is again running in the district, this time as an independent.
• The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) will hold a news conference Monday to seek commitments from the main three political leadership candidates to fix the most significant access problem in the province’s health-care system.
📢 ATTENTION ALL VOTERS! Mail-in Ballots (or Special Ballots) are available to any Newfoundland and Labrador resident...Posted by Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador on Sunday, January 17, 2021
• Unifor calls on all parties to come forward with clear platforms that reflect workers’ priorities, including commitments to: provide funding for the protection of energy-sector jobs; implement $15 minimum wage legislation by 2022, seven paid sick days and equal pay for equal work, protecting part-time and temporary workers; and enact regulations that mirror federal initiatives that promote and protect the integrity of the owner-operator inshore fishery.
• The general election will take place on Saturday, Feb. 13, when polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.; an advance poll will be held Saturday, Feb. 6, when polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. The deadline for candidate nominations is Saturday, Jan. 23 at 2. p.m. All times listed are half an hour earlier in most of Labrador. Visit the Elections Newfoundland and Labrador website (www.elections.gov.nl.ca) for information pertaining to mail-in voting, early voting, voting qualifications, election day voting locations, advance poll locations and more, or call toll-free at 1-877-729-7987.