The provincial election is coming up, and Morden-Winkler’s incumbent is running for re-election.
Cameron Friesen, the Progressive Conservative candidate, graduated from Morden Collegiate and spent 12 years teaching in the public school system. He and his wife Shelley moved back to Morden in 2001 where they have lived since, raising their three children.
Friesen said he was always mindful of finding an opportunity to serve in government. He ran in 2011 and was elected, serving two terms and acting as Finance Minister and most recently Minister for Health, Seniors and Active Living.
“I remember the very first sign I ever had in the election said ‘Energy and experience,’ and so I think I still have energy and a little more experience and so I’m asking for the vote again,” he said. “I believe in this area, I believe it’s a very special area of Manitoba. I believe it’s the people, it’s our generosity, it’s our concern for others and our determination and hard work that really makes this area unique.”
Politics was always part of his household. Friesen’s father served on Morden council and was mayor for three terms, and Friesen said the desire to serve was always there.
“We saw that life up close and personal of what it meant to be an official, what it meant to work in a world of policy and policy implementation in order to drive an enterprise forward,” he said. “It was made apparent to me even as a child that it’s important for all of us in the way we can to serve and give back.”
Friesen said the upcoming election will be a question of trust for voters. “I believe that the election for Manitobans will be about who they really believe if elected will do what they said they were going to do,” he said. “In an election a lot of promises will be made, but Manitobans should remember that our government has kept its promises.”
Friesen said those promises include lowering the PST to 7 per cent, cutting ambulance fees in half to $250 and building schools and personal care homes.
“We have cleaned up the financial mess, which we said we would do,” he said. “At this point in time in this fiscal year, we are targeting a deficit amount that is one third of the amount when we inherited government just 38 months ago.”
Friesen said he has heard a lot of concerns from constituents about issues like day care, school space and infrastructure.
Friesen said the PCs have already created almost 100 new day care spaces, and recently announced another 114 spaces coming. The party also committed to 20 new schools in the next ten years (seven are already in various stages of construction).
“Constituents should keep in mind that the $90 million Winkler-Morden-Stanley joint waste water project, under the federal-provincial new funding program, has the top priority of our government,” he said.
One spectre that has haunted the PC party this election has been rumors that the provincial government will privatize Crown corporations like Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba Public Insurance. Friesen said the PCs have no plans to do so, but do have a plan to sustain Hydro.
“The NDP government undertook investments that have doubled in cost that will, when completed, equal more than $15 billion of new debt for the province,” he said. “We need to make sure that we are stabilizing Manitoba Hydro in order to make sure that the advantage we have historically had in Manitoba, which is relatively low hydro rates, will be there for the future.”
Friesen said a good MLA is a hard worker, a good listener and a person who brings experience to the table. “Relationships matter,” he said. “Having a seat at the table matters. Experience matters and integrity is number one.”
“I have endeavored to work hard every single day,” he added. “There is no part of my role that energizes me more than actually meeting with constituents. Whatever role a premier assigns to me, it is always my greatest joy to be back in my constituency meeting with people and then doing the work to try to move things forward… because results also matter.”
Friesen is running against Mike Urichuk from the Green Party, David Mintz from the Liberal Party and Robin Dalloo from the New Democratic Party. The election takes place Sept. 10.