The NDP candidate for Dawson Trail says he is running for that seat because of a promise he made to his son.
Chris Wiebe says his son died by stillbirth a few years ago just before Christmas. He refers to that as a life-changing experience as it caused him to re-evaluate his priorities. Wiebe says he remembers thinking how fortunate he was to be able to be with his son when he died. He notes many others were suffering alone in the hospital and because of health care cuts there were a lot of patients sitting in waiting rooms not receiving the care they needed.
"So, I decided to be the change that I wanted to see in the world," he recalls. "I wanted to take on a life of service to my community."
Wiebe says he wants a better future for his province, including better health care, better education and more affordability for his family and neighbours.
Wiebe is a resident of Lorette, where he lives with his wife and three children. The professor of chemistry and physics at the University of Winnipeg says he has deep roots in agriculture in southern Manitoba, is an active community member and is passionate about a better future for Dawson Trail.
In addition to the promise he made to his son, Wiebe says he is also running because he wants Dawson Trail to move from being a have-not constituency to a have constituency. He feels seven years of PC cuts have negatively impacted his community as schools and daycares are packed, family doctors are in short supply and the Ste. Anne Emergency Room tends to be closed during the evenings.
Wiebe admits he has no prior political experience. He refers to it as a steep learning curve but says he has enjoyed the process, including getting to know his constituents and their concerns.
If elected, Wiebe says he will have three main priorities: health care, education and affordability.
With regards to health care, Wiebe says the Progressive Conservatives broke the health care system and our province has endured seven years of health cuts.
"I think it's time for a change," he says. "Rural health care is high up there."
As for early childhood education and daycares, Wiebe says Manitoba schools are bursting at the seams and there are daycares that have wait lists of more than 100 names. He notes the $10 per day daycare only applies to some families, and places like Ste. Anne and Lorette are finding it difficult to attract young families with no daycare spots.
With regards to making life more affordable for Manitobans, Wiebe says an NDP government will freeze hydro rates and axe the gas tax.
Wiebe says common things he is hearing while knocking on doors is that seniors are concerned with the rising cost of living, there is a feel that Manitoba needs to invest more in agriculture and there is a passion for our drinking water to be protected rather than have the Sio Silica project approved in the southeast.
"I find a lot of Dawson Trail constituents are very well informed about the many problems out here because they've experienced them in day-to-day lives where it's making their ends meet," he says. "They worry about their drinking water, they worry about access to health care, they are worried about where their kids are going to go to daycare or the educational options they have."
Again, Wiebe says he wants to turn Dawson Trail into a have constituency and promises that if elected, his door will always be open when people want to come and talk.
The provincial election is October 3rd.
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