Earlier in the year, the Conservative Party selected Linda Rydholm as their candidate for the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding in the upcoming federal election.
The former Thunder Bay city councillor recently visited Fort Frances to attend the Treaty #3 National Spring Assembly a couple of weeks ago as well as events around the district.
Because of Rydholm’s 18 years on council, 12 years serving the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and nine years serving as school board trustee, she said she feels well equipped to represent the riding.
“While I was on the Federation of Municipalities National Board . . . I was often in Ottawa and saw the members of Parliament and senators in action,” she told the Times.
“I met with them, advocated for federal changes in policy and funding for municipalities across the country, so I feel comfortable to go into that position as a member of Parliament.”
Although, she does recognize that securing the seat will be a difficult task, as the last Conservative MP was elected over 80 years ago, back when the electorate district was the Fort Williams-Rainy River riding.
“I’m hoping though-because it looks like Canada is going Conservative again-that we will also catch the blue wave in Thunder Bay-Rainy River and have a say of what’s happening in the new government,” Rydholm remarked.
“When I was advocating on behalf of municipalities during the last Conservative government it would have been very helpful if we had a local member of Parliament.”
Six out of 10 provinces in Canada are now ran by the Tories and when looking at the global picture, she said Conservative ideas are on the rise.
“There is a reason why Britain voted for Brexit, there’s a reason why the States voted for their current president,” Rydholm noted. “People are concerned about their lifestyle, about their affordability.”
She said the Conservatives are offering a different perspective to federal politics-one that is currently underrepresented within the country’s four major parties.
“Google doesn’t know everything but if you do happen to Google ‘Green Party of Canada,’ ‘New Democratic Party of Canada,’ and ‘Liberal Party of Canada,’ they’re all considered left-it’s very crowded over there.”
Rydholm said the centre, centre-right approach that the Conservative Party takes, offers an alternative option to those who are not left leaning or hold differing views.
“You can be part of the blue tent if your pro guns, anti guns, pro drugs, anti drugs, pro abortion, anti abortion . . . We welcome people from all backgrounds, religions, genders, gender identities–all of that,” Rydholm lauded.
“Coming from Northwestern Ontario, many of us think it’s just a middle-class businessman group.”
In the past rapid online communications weren’t as prominent as they are today, which Rydholm said will help in accurately getting her party’s message across as the federal election nears.
“I’m thinking that more voters will be using their devices, connecting, and actually reading, not just listening to the interpretation of a speech Andrew Scheer makes,” she explained.
“Now people can actually go online and read verbatim and then interpret for themselves.
“And not just Andrew Scheer but what all of the leaders are saying,” Rydholm added.
She said the primary area of focus for her, if elected, is fiscal responsibility-getting the country’s finances in order, and balancing federal budgets without deficits.
Rydholm noted that in 2015, when the Conservative government left office, Canada was operating without a deficit and the economy was on the rise.
“Financially, Canada was set to do well and Canada has done well. The GDP has improved, there have been more jobs, but during that time the deficit has crept up again,” Rydholm remarked.
“The good times have been rolling but the deficit has risen, accumulatively $71 billion in the last three and-a-half years.”
Rydholm stressed that more debt means more taxes because an increasing amount of taxpayer money will be diverted towards paying off interest.
“The more debt you have than the more you have to pay and the more it costs you in the long run,” she explained.
“We’re back to high annual deficits, $18-19 billion a year and somebody’s going to pay.”
Rydholm said she’s happy to invest money to make money but there has to be good value where the dollars are being spent.
Another area of focus for her if elected is improving relations with the riding’s First Nations reserves.
“The fly-in communities are sending in increasing numbers for education and health care reasons, so we need to address . . . the needs of the First Nations folks coming in, but also the pre-existing neighbourhoods so we have more comfortable integration,” Rydholm remarked.
“It’s tough for people coming from a settlement of a few hundred to then come to a city of over 100,000.”
Moving forward Rydholm said she plans to become a familiar face around the riding.
“I’m well known in the city but I need to be seen more and at more events here in the Rainy River District,” she noted.
Rydholm will be canvassing and trying to better understand the issues that matter most to constituents leading up to the federal election.
The NDP will select their candidate in early June and the Liberal Party’s incumbent MP Don Rusnak announced in March that he would no longer be seeking re-election.
Nomination packages for potential Liberal MP candidates were made available earlier this month and the closing date for the nomination period is to be determined.
For the Thunder Bay-Superior North riding Betty Achneepineskum was acclaimed on Sunday.
The federal election will be held on Oct. 21.