Fort Whyte candidates prepare for upcoming byelection to fill former premier’s seat

With days to go before the byelection in Winnipeg’s Fort Whyte constituency, the Liberal party and NDP held news conferences Friday morning reviewing their party platforms.

Willard Reaves (Liberal) and Trudy Schroeder (NDP) are both in the running for former premier Brian Pallister’s seat alongside Progressive Conservative candidate Obby Khan. Green Party of Manitoba candidate Nicolas Geddert and independent candidate Patrick Allard round out the field.

Schroeder repeated her promise to re-open the Mature Women’s Centre, a one-stop clinic at Victoria Hospital for menopausal women that closed in 2017.

“At the time of the closure, doctors said this closure would not only increase health-care costs, it would be a step backwards for women’s health,” Schoreder said.

Premier Heather Stefanson, health minister at the time, supported Pallister’s decision to close the clinic.

“She [Stefanson] promised to consider reopening the Mature Women’s Centre. But now that she’s premier, we haven’t heard anything more about it,” Schroeder said.

“The PCs have refused to put women’s health ahead of the bottom line, and women in our community are paying the price.”

NDP candidate Trudy Schroeder, left, is kept abreast on her team’s door-knocking efforts. (Travis Golby/CBC)

When asked how the campaign has been, Schroeder described it as energizing, and said she has enjoyed meeting community members.

The only female candidate in the byelection, she pointed out that she has been asked several times what it’s like to “be running against two famous men,” referring to  to Reaves and Khan, both former members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“We are not trying to populate a football team,” Schroeder replied.

Here to represent, not just grab a seat: Reaves

Liberal candidate Willard Reaves has been door-knocking six days a week since Nov. 2021. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont says the party has been overwhelmed with support while door-knocking on the campaign trail.

Lamont says their priorities — many of which focus on the health-care system — include addressing the surgical backlog, settling grievances with nurses, and coverage for insulin and insulin pumps.

The Liberal leader repeated his criticisms of the way the provincial government disbursed the $1.5 million meant to help local businesses make it through the pandemic. 

Through a freedom of information request, the Liberals revealed that Khan, founder of Good Local, received a $500,000 grant.

“Who you vote for or whether you’re connected shouldn’t make a difference as to whether you succeed as a business,” Lamont said. 

Reaves started door-knocking in Nov. 2021 after becoming the Liberal candidate. Since then, he says, he has been out campaigning six days a week.

“I’m there to represent and not just sit and grab a seat like Pallister did, and what they’re hoping that Obby would do. I am a lifetime public servant,” Reaves said.

Advance voting opened on Thursday, and the regular polls open Tuesday, March 22.

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