Profile: Ken Henry - Green Party - Borderland

Borderland Green Party candidate Ken Henry. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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Land stewardship and environmental issues are concerns that Borderland Green Party candidate Ken Henry wants to take to government.

Raised by his grandmother Annie Henry in Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, he attended Roseau Valley elementary before moving to Winnipeg. He’s spent time working in northern Manitoba as a policy analyst and worked on projects including first time broadband internet connectivity, as well as improving communications in eHealth, schools and home services. He also played a role in the MTS infrastructure upgrades to northern Manitoba.

In 2011, Henry was elected as Chief of the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation and served two terms. He achieved a $15m reduction in debt, rebuilt the Community Centre, purchased 19 new homes for the community, conducted renovations on over 75 homes, and brought a new fire truck to the First Nation.

The fifth member of his family to serve as Chief or Headmen, his family has always lived in the area. His grandfather served in WWII and his father was a local police officer.

Henry said there are many goals he has as MLA for Borderland, including working with farmers to transition them away from fossil fuels.

“I think it’s time to provide them with some incentives instead of taxing them,” he said. “I think (taxing them) makes it more difficult for the farmers to do their jobs.”

Ensuring farmers are treated fairly is high on his priority list. Henry said he’d also like to see education taxes taken off farmland. “Taxing farmland for schools is probably not a good thing,” he said.

Improving rural infrastructure is also important to Henry.

A basic income plan in the Green Party platform will help low income people and will be funded by the removal of some tax credits. “I think we can all benefit from that kind of thing,” he said. “Economically it makes perfect sense. It’s one of the reasons why I really chose the Green Party.”

“It provides some stability for those who really need it,” he added. “It will help them transition into something more so they’re not worried about where their next meal is coming from.”

Henry said his experience working as a policy analyst and as chief has brought him in contact with many officials. “I’ve always had a good rapport,” he said. “There’s a lot I can offer.”

Henry spends much of his time at his father’s place in Roseau Rapids. As chief, he was offered a home. “I couldn’t take it in good conscience,” he said. “It was a four bedroom house and it was just me and my son. I said, there’s a larger family that needs this house.”

Running for MLA wasn’t a spur of the moment decision for Henry. “This has been in the works for a while,” he said. “I had been approached by other parties but as I said, the land stewardship, the climate impact… for me, that’s where my heart was. It just made more sense to me.”

Henry said he considers himself more centre in the political spectrum and would rather work on issues than get bogged down in party affiliation. “If they have great ideas, we’ll adopt them, coming from the left or the right,” he said. “I love that idea that we can work across the political spectrum, trying to be non-partisan and get some of these things done.”

Henry said that world view shaped his time as chief, as he dealt with many leaders from various parties.

“I worked really well with Vic Toews when he was there,” he said. “He was a man of his word, so I had a lot of respect for that.”

Henry said people in the Borderland constituency appreciate hard work. “I know that people will give anybody a chance as long as you can get out there, as long as you go door to door and meet them face to face,” he said.

Henry said he brings experience and a listening ear.  “I will always try to come up with a solution,” he said. “I have an open door policy. I’m accessible to the people. Everyone has a right to voice their opinion.”

“I’ve always been a hard worker and when I put my mind to something, I’ve always accomplished it,” he added. “I’ve got post secondary education, I’ve got two black belts and that takes some discipline.”

The Borderland constituency includes as candidates: Ken Henry – Green Party, Loren Braul – Liberal, Joshua Guenter – PC Party, Cliff Graydon – Independent and Liz Cronk – NDP. The election takes place Sept. 10.

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