The Winkler and District Chamber of Commerce and the Morden Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidates forum Monday night at the Morden 55+ activity centre for those running in the Morden-Winkler constituency. With the provincial election now two weeks away on October 3rd, N.D.P candidate Ken Friesen and Progressive Conservative candidate Carrie Hiebert participated in the forum. Liberal candidate Mattison Froese was not in attendance Monday night.

Both Friesen and Hiebert were given the opportunity to present opening statements, as well as answer questions from the crowd. Some of the topics and issues raised included affordable housing,  healthcare, mental health supports for students, minimum wage and roads. There were also several questions posed to the candidates regarding education revolving around mental health, funding not keeping up with inflation, breakfast programs, parental controls in school and gender identification.

Below you will find the opening remarks of both. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Ken Friesen - N.D.P. - Opening Remarks

NDP Candidate Ken FriesenNDP Candidate Ken Friesen

My name’s Ken Friesen. Some of you might remember me best as Kenny, if you remember me back those days, feel free to call me that if that makes you happy. 

I'm the NDP candidate for to be your MLA for Morden-Winkler.  

I grew up in this area. I call this area my home. I went to the same schools, youth groups, played on the same teams as many of us all did. Winkler is my hometown. Morden is now is my home. 

Before the pandemic my wife and I, we were working in Winnipeg, and she decided I'm going to take a look for a different job, and she got a job out here. I went to my boss, asked to work from home. They said no, I said my wife is working in Morden, and they said go work from home, and so I am one of the most fortunate people in the world to Be able to call this place, this community, my home. I love and care about these communities. There's such a long history here, and the fact that I get to come back here and to fight for you, fight for my family, fight for my wife, fight for my 7 month old son. My wife and son are not here this evening, because he needs to sleep, and I could show you pictures. He is ridiculously adorable, with the biggest blue eyes you've ever seen. I'm here because of them.  

I am excited to be running in this election. This election isn't about me. It isn't about my wife. It's not about my son, or any single group that we may be connected to. This election is about us, all of us, together as a community, this election is about us. The last few years have been rough, and have exposed cracks in the foundations of our communities, and I urgently want to help repair those cracks.  

Heather Stephenson and the PC’s have actively been dismantling our healthcare system, making healthcare ridiculously hard to access, as can be seen by wait times, that when you go through the walk-in clinics. They've tried to take away our voices in education with Bill 64, and now they are making promises to parents for things that are already the law of the land. The PC's have been selling off pieces Manitoba Hydro and making life more expensive. And the PC’s have been fighting workers demands for a fair raise to meet the struggle that sky high inflation has caused.  

Stephenson, along with the other PC candidates, do not stand for the working class. I am a worker. Like many of you, I am a member of the working class. That Is who we are. Our struggles are real. I experienced them. You experience them. We all experience them. We experience them differently, but we experience them together. We have the same struggles, and that is why you can know, that as your MLA, I will stand firmly by your side.  

Our communities are rich in culture and tradition and history, and it's important to maintain that one part of that history and culture is standing together when we face tough times like this inflation that we're facing now, like the healthcare crisis, like anything that's going on in our communities, right now, we are doing this together. And we need to stand together.  

We don't need to be tearing each other down. We need to build each other up. And that is exactly what the N.D.P. government will do. That is exactly what I will do. We will fix healthcare by investing in doctors and nurses. We will keep Manitoba Hydro public. We will fight for workers and fair wages, instead of fighting against workers.  

Our communities are rich because of our diversity. We don't need to be singling out any one group, or creating situations where anyone in our community is ostracized, condemned or forced to live in a life of fear. None of us want that for any of us.  

And once again, I am really honored to be, I say, standing in my notes, but sitting here in front of you, having the opportunity to look you in the eye to see your faces and to say to you that I am committed to all of us. I am committed to our communities growing together, we enforcing the foundations of our communities. Making them strong because I believe in Winkler and Morden. I believe in us. Thank you. 

Carrie Hiebert - Progressive Conservative - Opening Remarks

PC Candidate Carrie HiebertPC Candidate Carrie Hiebert

Hi, my name is Carrie Hiebert and I am the PC candidate for Morden-Winkler. Many of you know me, but if you haven't yet met me, I'm sure we are more alike than what you might think. I'm a wife, a mother, a community volunteer and a small business owner. I have called this community my home for over 25 years.  

First I want to tell you a little bit about myself, and why I know I can do this job with skilled passion, and a deep knowledge of both our community and our government. I am the past owner of King's Deli, and even though that in itself is a large part of my experience in working in working with local small business, that's just the start of what I believe qualifies me.  

I've worked both in federal and provincial government for the last 11 years. I worked for Candice Bergen, as he said, and also for Cameron Friesen. I've had the opportunity to learn a wealth of knowledge about government. I have been serving you behind the scenes in a government capacity for years now, and I believe it's time for me to step up and do my part.  

In addition to my political experience, I have a vast experience in the private sector. I ran the palliative care program and volunteer program at Boundary Trails Health Centre and been on the board of the Boundary Trails Health Center Foundation. I worked for the local Chamber of Commerce and the city of Winkler in the past. I have worked with many charities and nonprofits, and have always felt very strongly about being involved and giving back to the community in any way possible.  

But you need to know that I can get the job done, and I will do it well with both skill and an even calm demeanor that demands attention of others, both making friends where needed, and still being a commanding force that gets results.  

I know we need to continue to work on getting things done in Morden-Winkler. To engage all levels of government is imperative. For me, this is about doing the best I can for the community that I love. Listening, meeting with you and finding solutions together is my goal.  

In order for industry and business sectors to continue to grow, we need to ensure infrastructure, such as access to water and good roads, human resources and skilled labour force is to fill jobs. We need to provide affordable housing for those moving into the area and residents that are already here. Continue to support our amazing immigration programs happening both in Morden and Winkler and the R.M. of Stanley. We need more daycare spots, so parents can go to work, and I'm happy to announce that there's 174 new spots coming to Morden-Winkler area. Helping Family is an important part of the solution to a healthy and prosperous community.  

We need to start praying to the world how gifted our community is, with so many leaders in industry and commerce and our farming community. Plus, not to mention the generosity and caring of others. I think we are one of the top in the country, which is something really to be proud of.  

Let's attract new doctors and other healthcare professionals. Let's fill that new hospital expansion to capacity with staff and patients. The PC government has been working hard to make this happen, and it's starting to happen with the new announcement that I made just this morning, committing to a permanent $120 million healthcare recruitment fund should when the PC's get reelected.  

We need to start bringing more in place education, adding to what we already have started. When parents and kids live here, and they want to stay here, they need to be able to go to school here, so they can stay and go to school.  

This is my home. This is where my family is. This is where my desire is to lead and be the voice for Morden- Winkler. I want to be your voice. I can't do this without your help. We need a capable, driven person to advocate and fight for our community in our province in the Legislature. I want to be that person for you. It is important for our continued growth, our rural values and everything that makes our community special. To do this, I need your support and I would love you to vote for me in the provincial election. Thank you. 

- With files from Robyn Wiebe -

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