Local Liberal candidate to be determined Sunday

Sam Odrowski

The Liberal Party’s nomination meetings have been set for the upcoming federal election and the successful candidate will be decided early next week.

A meet and greet with federal Liberal candidates for the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding will take place on Saturday, July 27 from 6-8 p.m. at the Copper River Inn.

Then the nomination meeting and candidate election will be held on Sunday, July 28 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Fort Frances Public Library (Shaw Room).

A nomination meeting in Atikokan will be held the same day at their Pioneer Club, starting at 7:30 p.m.

In Thunder Bay the nomination meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Victoria Inn and Convention Centre.

Elementary school principal and former Green Party candidate Christy Radbourne, military veteran and community leader David Bruno, physician Marcus Powlowski, and Thunder Bay councillor Shelby Ch’ng are all vying for the nomination.

Radbourne said she’s seeking the nomination so she can continue to serve communities represented inside the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding.

“Community service has always been a pursuit of mine and ensuring our riding has a competent and innovative voice in Ottawa is important to the future growth of Northwestern Ontario,” she told the Times.

“I believe that I have knowledge, skills, and abilities to serve our riding in Parliament.”

Areas of focus for Radbourne if elected include: pharmacare; meeting Paris carbon emission targets through both the carbon tax and green infrastructure; technology; and re-training investments.

She also aims to strengthen commitments to reconciliation and continue the flow of federal infrastructure dollars to the region to attract business, industry, and families.

Radbourne said it’s critical for the federal government to increase support and funding for healthcare, particularly mental health, national pharmacare plans, education, mitigating climate change, and expanding training to create a “green workforce.”

“These supports are particularly important to lessen the effects of the devastating ‘slash and burn’ cuts of Ford’s provincial Conservative government, to ensure that our communities can achieve and maintain sustainable growth, and preserve healthcare, education commitments, and future job growth,” she charged.

In addition to her work as an elementary school educator, Radbourne has served on several community boards, and is a regular presenter and keynote speaker for several organizations, including the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

She is currently working on pursuing her PhD in education at Lakehead University and runs her own horse boarding, breeding, and training business.

Radbourne also spent 10 years in federal law enforcement in the United States before immigrating to Canada in 2000.

“I have been a part of several community support efforts during my time in Thunder Bay and have worked with Environment North and the North Shore Steelhead Association to protect and advocate for waterways, air quality and appropriate environmental reviews and community consultation,” she explained.

“I have also served on my local teacher’s union executive, principal’s council executive and the Thunder Bay Labour Council as well.”

Meanwhile, David Bruno, CEO of Swiss Secure Data, a global cybersecurity firm said he’s seeking the nomination because he shares the Liberal party’s values and wants to provide representation to the good people of Northwestern Ontario.

He also told the Times he’s seeking the nomination because of the work he’s already been doing with the federal government on policy issues, such as the most recent 10-point Digital Privacy Charter presented by Minister Navdeep Bains.

The charter is aimed at providing better cyber protections to all Canadians.

“I thought instead of pushing policy I decided I would really like to drive it forward,” Bruno explained.

“I would like to continue that work I am doing with him but this time from the inside [rather] than the outside.”

Bruno said through his company, Swiss Secure Data, he has made it his mission to educate the public on today’s cyber threats and provide secure protections to the public free of charge.

If elected, other priorities include expanding the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital, replacing single use plastics with wood based products that are made in Northwestern Ontario, and improving indigenous relations by proposing a self governing system administered directly by indigenous people.

Thunder Bay is home to Bruno and he said he’s well known in the community through his family business, “Donatos Bakery,” and his ongoing community service.

He studied at Lakehead University where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with Honours and has a Master’s degree in International Relations and Communications.

As well, he is an advocate for the LGBTQ communities, refugees, and other disenfranchised groups.

Bruno, who ran for the Northern Ontario Party (NOP) for last year’s provincial election said he did so to draw attention to disparity within the system between Northern and Southern Ontario, but has always remained a Liberal at heart.

He said the NOP is a protest against the current political system that has underrepresented the interests of Northwestern Ontario in Queen’s Park.

Marcus Powlowski, who’s also seeking the Liberal nomination said his background serving as a doctor and working with the World Health Organization (WHO) make him best fit to serve as the riding’s MP.

As a doctor, he said much of the solutions provided in the emergency room are a “band-aid” to problems that could be better addressed by a duly elected MP.

“A lot of the things you see, problems that effect people have their origin in the nature of society,” Powlowski explained.

“Whether it’s alcohol use, drug use, obesity, cigarettes, homelessness, elderly who have no adequate housing, all of these are societal issues.”

Powlowski said he is a proud Liberal because most of their policies are consistent with his own beliefs and ideals.

“I think historically the Liberal party has been a fairly centrist party, meaning that it both stood for and appreciated the importance of social goods, and therefore worked for the betterment of the poor or disadvantaged,” he noted.

“In the past the Liberal Party has also appreciated the importance of business and a sound economy and is aware of the fact that a robust economy is the engine that pulls all your social programs.”

Powlowski said on the global stage he sees a “polarization of political opinion” to the left and right, leaving a large empty space in the centre, waiting to be filled.

“I think the Liberals are the national party to fill that space and I think for the most part they have stayed in that centrist position,” he lauded.

In addition to having a Doctor of Medicine, Powlowski also has a Bachelor of Law and said if elected, his law background will assist him greatly in the legislature.

Having worked in third world countries and Northern indigenous communities, he has also developed a breadth of perspective on issues relating to poverty, and limited access to health services.

Powlowski said he can view issues from multiple perspectives and has an “unindoctrinated approach.”

Going forward he said its his priority to understand all of the issues effecting the constituency, including places outside of Thunder Bay, such as Atikokan and Fort Frances.

Meanwhile, Thunder Bay councillor Shelby Ch’ng said she’s been a longtime Liberal ever since Jean Chretien was elected prime minster, and has high hopes of representing the riding as MP.

As a city councillor she has been at the forefront of many key initiatives in the city, including infrastructure work aimed at keeping residents basement’s dry and property’s safe.

Ch’ng told the Times she proudly served on both Don Rusnak and Patty Hajdu’s campaigns in 2015 and planned on again being a part of the Liberal team until news came that MP Don Rusnak decided to not seek re-election.

“Members of my Liberal circle looked to me,” she recalled.

“Initially I felt hesitation as I have a great working relationship with my constituents, city administration and fellow council members and with thought and discussion, the encouragement of my husband, friends and the backing of many Liberal members, I recognized I could serve this district in a broader capacity and achieve even more for Thunder Bay and Rainy River District.”

“I am ready to step on to the federal stage,” she added.

Ch’ng’s focus is on making sure those living in the Rainy River District and Thunder Bay to be represented in Ottawa despite being well over 1,000 km away.

“In the North, we feel the distance to Ottawa and the impact of our isolation,” she noted.

“The current provincial government has its eyes keenly set on Toronto and the GTA. We need a strong voice in Ottawa that will not get lost when other issues make headline news, and we need to feel the pulse of Ottawa in the North to feel connected.”

“You will not be out of the loop. Your issues will be brought forward. You will know what is going on in Ottawa and in the region with your neighbours,” Ch’ng added.

She said some of her skills include her tenacity, resourcefulness, and loyalty which will drive the issues of the North into Ottawa.

“I am politically savvy, come with valid experience and have a positive political track record representing the people I serve,” Ch’ng lauded.

Going forward she plans to dig deep into the issues that effect the riding and meet local residents to develop a better understanding of the issues and opportunities impacting Thunder Bay-Rainy River.