Smith running for NDP in Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman

Robert Smith is the NDP candidate in Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman for the 2019 federal election (Photo credit: New Democratic Party of Canada)

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Robert Smith is a socially and environmentally conscious family person, dedicated to helping people especially those who are disadvantaged. He has a Masters degree in social work with a career spanning various services like Community Development, Child and Family Services, seconded to a First Nations CFS agency, Rural Development, and the Department of Agriculture.

Now a modest beekeeper who previously had a cow calf herd in Ashern, he and his wife are both involved in activities helping others through their church and other organizations.

Stonewall Argus: What has inspired you to run in the 2019 federal election for Member of Parliament?

Robert Smith: I am inspired by Jagmeet Singh’s leadership style. He came from very modest beginnings and truly relates to ordinary folks. I believe the policies being announced daily by our party are progressive and address the real needs of all Canadians.  I have been involved in befriending and assisting many new Canadians. I believe fair and just welcoming of new immigrants is necessary to sustain our workforce into the future. Previous generations came from many countries, including my maternal great grandparents, coming from Britain in the 1870s and my father from Scotland in the 1940s. They enriched our nation as newcomers are now doing. I believe the NDP best reflects my personal beliefs and values.

SA: How do you feel you can make a difference for your local community?

RS: I believe I can honestly represent the concerns of constituents, individually and as communities. Those who know me have greatly encouraged me in this venture. They affirm that I am a trustworthy and reliable person to effectively communicate their concerns and priorities. This is about the future of all of us.

SA: What aspect of your party’s platform do you admire most in order to make a
difference locally and for all residents of Canada?

RS: Jagmeet Singh’s vision on issues that affect ordinary folks: affordable housing, pharmacare, dental care, daycare and electrification of public transportation. He has a vision of an interprovincial power corridor, maximizing Manitoba’s abundant renewable electric power.

SA: How do you feel you can contribute most to your political party if elected?

RS: I have been a low key behind the scenes kind of person but have worked with many groups to achieve results at the community and organizational level. I believe I have skills to assist in looking at all aspects of an issue and assist in making change possible and achievable.

SA: What is the number one issue in your mind for Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman?

RS: Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman is a huge riding with great diversity from the bedroom communities in the south to extensive farms to Aboriginal communities fringing the North. There are many issues but the health of Lake Winnipeg is a major one.  The putrification of Lake Winnipeg by Winnipeg’s sewage and other upstream sources affects pleasure use of our beautiful lake and also the commercial and sport fisheries. Severe weather events are already affecting agriculture. As beekeepers we are sensitive, but livestock producers and crop farmers are even more affected by these extreme cycles.
Government action is needed to help those most impacted.

SA: What is the number one issue in your mind for Canada?

RS: The looming environmental crisis affects all future generations. We are all trying to do our part, but government leadership is required to assist us in transitioning and to limit the big environmental polluters by incentives and by regulation.

SA: What are you doing personally and what is your party doing in order to get a higher voter turnout and to engage voters in this federal election?

RS: I agree that low voter turnout has been a significant issue in recent elections. Many potential voters are turned off by the empty promises that go unfulfilled from election to election. I believe honesty and proposing policies that address real needs as the NDP is doing may help to address voter apathy.

— Compiled by Dawn Peter