RIDING PROFILE: Kenora

Kenora is the westernmost riding in northern Ontario, with the largest land area of any riding in the province and the smallest population base.

It includes the municipalities of Kenora, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake, Pickle Lake and Ignace, as well as several First Nations communities, including Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Pikangikum, Sandy Lake, Lac Seul, Eabametoong and Fort Severn.

Conservative MP Eric Melillo won the riding in 2019, unseating Liberal incumbent Bob Nault.

Who’s running in Kenora?  

David Bruno, Liberal Party of Canada

David Bruno is the Liberal Party of Canada candidate in the Kenora riding in the 2021 federal election. (Supplied by David Bruno)

Tell us about yourself and what makes you qualified to be an MP for northwestern Ontario

I am a proud Northwestern Ontario boy. I grew up in Thunder Bay, travelled all over the world, and chose Kenora as my home. My spouse and I spend a lot of time outdoors visiting the beautiful parks, trails, and lakes our area has to offer. We love living here amongst the fine and good people on the traditional ceremonial land of Treaties 3, 5, and 9. I have served our country in the Canadian military, worked in the Canadian Embassy in Madrid, and then in international telecom. I opened my own cyber security business which led to working with the government on drafting Canada’s Digital Charter that ensures your privacy is protected online. I am proud of the work I have done, which has only motived me to do more for all of us. 

Our listeners have identified climate change as their No. 1 concern this election. What is your party’s greenhouse gas emissions target and timeline, and what policies will you put into place to reach that target?

I agree that climate change is of utmost importance in this election. Only the Liberal Party has a strong and feasible plan to take action now. The Liberal Party will make sure the oil and gas sector reduces emissions at a pace and scale needed to achieve net-zero by 2050, with five-year targets to stay on track. We will set 2025 and 2030 milestones that ensure reduction levels are ambitious and achievable and that the oil and gas sector makes a meaningful contribution to meeting our 2030 climate change goals. Canada’s largest oil and gas companies are already committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, so these actions will incentive clean innovation and the adoption of clean technologies, including carbon capture, utilization, and storage. 

What do you feel are the biggest environmental issues facing the northwest and how will you address them?  

We have all experienced the heatwaves and wildfires in the northwest this summer. This has only underscored the urgency of fighting and adapting to climate change. That is why the Liberal government has committed $500 million to train 1,000 new community-based firefighters to ensure we are ready for future fire seasons. We will also work with Ontario to provide firefighters with the equipment they need to fight fires and stay safe, like Canadian-made planes to increase aerial firefighting capacity. We will also support Indigenous-led fire crews so we can build capacity and better incorporate their traditional knowledge and strategies for managing fires. 

We are also supporting retrofits and upgrades to protect against extreme weather conditions and working with the insurance industry to lower insurance premiums by identifying cost-effective ways to better protect communities and homes from climate impacts and save people money. 

Our listeners have also listed economic recovery and ending poverty as two important issues for the next government. How do you think we can promote economic recovery in the northwest while also lifting people out of poverty?

The most important part of economic recovery and ending poverty in northwestern Ontario is innovation and adaptation. We need new strategies that we can mold to work in our very unique part of the country. It is no secret that northwestern Ontario has its own challenges that often get overlooked. The Liberal Party has recently announced that FedNor will now be a stand-alone regional economic development agency. We have kept our promise to restore funding cut by the previous Conservative government. We increased funding by $60 million which will help many small- and medium-business owners, First Nations, and not-for profits in our area. Especially in recovery from the pandemic, this is a huge boost. 

In addition, we need to work with our pulp and paper sector to develop new and innovative ways to use the top-rated pulp we have up north. For instance, the Dryden mill has recently been purchased by Paper Excellence. If elected, I will meet with the new owners and discuss innovative ideas for the use of our pulp – like replacements for single use plastics. This would bring jobs back to the community which are sorely missed. 

Our listeners have told us that they are very concerned about Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people. What will your party do to repair that relationship? 

The relationship with Indigenous people is especially important in the Kenora riding and across the Northwest because of the number of communities in this area. There are still many issues to address, but the Liberal government has been committed to improving on our relationship with Indigenous Peoples. 

The Liberal government has made significant strides to improve this relationship since 2015. We have worked to ensure that 80 per cent of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action involving the Government of Canada are now completed or well underway. We have invested over $4 billion in 535 water infrastructure projects, lifted 109 long-term water advisories, and prevented 188 short-term water advisories from becoming long term. We also committed to making high-quality health care designed to meet the unique needs of Indigenous communities a reality. 

In order for Indigenous Communities to thrive, we need to ensure they have the supports they require. This includes infrastructure, like building roads to communities like Northwest Angle that will significantly improve their ability to access resources. It also includes better housing in Indigenous communities. The Liberal government is committed to investing a further $2 billion Indigenous housing and co-developing a new Indigenous Housing Strategy that is supported by a $300 million initial investment. 

What aspects of your party platform do you think are most important to highlight for northwestern Ontario?

Much like your listeners, I feel that climate change, economic recovery, and improved relationships with Indigenous communities are priorities for Northwestern Ontario and specifically the Kenora riding. In addition, we need to address seniors concerns. The Liberal Party has promised funding to allow seniors to stay in their homes longer and funding for personal care workers to ensure there are more available. We also need to address the doctor and primary care team shortage in our area. The Liberal Party has committed to provide $3.2 billion to the provinces and territories for the hiring of 7,500 new family doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners. If elected, I will work with the government to ensure we get our fair share of these health care professionals. 

I am committed to ensuring that Northwestern Ontario receives increased funding based on equity, not equality. I have great ideas for the Kenora riding and I look forward to speaking with more voters to discuss the issues that matter most to them. 

Craig Martin, People’s Party of Canada

Craig Martin is the People’s Party of Canada candidate in the Kenora riding in the 2021 federal election. (People’s Party of Canada)

Eric Melillo, Conservative Party of Canada

Eric Melillo is the Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the Kenora riding in the 2021 federal election. (Supplied by Eric Melillo)

Tell us about yourself and what makes you qualified to be an MP for northwestern Ontario.

I was elected MP for the Kenora riding in 2019. I have a strong track record of advocating for the needs of our region, whether it’s investments in infrastructure, supports for workers and businesses, or better access to social services.

As MP, I served as Conservative Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs & FedNor.  I have also been a member of the parliamentary Standing Committees on Natural Resources and Indigenous & Northern Affairs, which gave me the opportunity to work with all parties to find real solutions to issues like food insecurity, rural crime, the struggles of our forestry sector, and challenges faced by Indigenous communities.

As Canada comes out of this economic and public health crisis, I will fight to ensure northwestern Ontario is not left behind.

Our listeners have identified climate change as their No. 1 concern this election. What is your party’s greenhouse gas emissions target and timeline, and what policies will you put into place to reach that target?

The Conservative Party has pledged to meet the Paris Targets. A Conservative government will invest in innovative technologies such as Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage and zero-emission vehicles, and incentivize industry to adopt emissions reduction technology. We’ll crack down on big polluters and put pressure on countries like China to lower their emissions, possibly through carbon border tariffs. We’ll also create a Personal Low Carbon Savings Account to support Canadians as they lower their carbon footprints, while investing in natural climate solutions such as responsible forest, crop, and grazing land management.

What do you feel are the biggest environmental issues facing the northwest and how will you address them?  

Climate change is a serious threat to our way of life in northwestern Ontario, resulting in shortened ice road seasons, changing wildlife behaviour, increased forest pests and risk of natural disasters. The Conservative Party will invest in innovative technologies to reduce emissions, incentivize individuals and industry to lower their carbon footprints, and work with our allies to set North American standards and crack down on big polluters.

Contaminated water is another severe environmental and health issue in northwestern Ontario. A Conservative government will end all long-term drinking water advisories and work proactively to protect water systems to prevent contamination. We will target high-risk water systems for protection and work with Indigenous communities to find new approaches to ensure clean drinking water.

Our listeners have also listed economic recovery and ending poverty as two important issues for the next government. How do you think we can promote economic recovery in the northwest while also lifting people out of poverty?

Securing an economic recovery and lifting people out of poverty go hand in hand. A Conservative government will help create good, high-paying jobs for northwestern Ontarians by giving financial supports to businesses as they rehire and hire new workers, providing aid to hard-hit sectors like tourism, supporting our local forestry and mining industries, and investing in training to help workers develop and upgrade their skills.

A Conservative government will also support our most vulnerable, with investments in affordable housing, healthcare, and addictions and mental health treatment.

Our listeners have told us that they are very concerned about Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people. What will your party do to repair that relationship? 

The Conservative Party will work with Indigenous communities towards reconciliation  this includes making amends for past injustices and addressing ongoing issues facing Indigenous communities, while ensuring they have a chance to prosper for generations to come.

A Conservative government will provide Indigenous communities the resources they need to investigate residential school sites for unmarked graves and to properly honour any individuals who are found. We’ll also ensure all Canadians are educated about the lasting harms of this system.

A Conservative government will end long-term boil water advisories. We will work to implement a national action plan to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. We’ll improve social services on reserves, guarantee stable funding for urban Indigenous organizations, and make historic investments in mental health and addictions treatment services for Indigenous communities.

And we’ll support economic development in Indigenous communities by investing in infrastructure and job training, helping First Nations and Inuit organizations buy stakes in major projects, and providing supports for indigenous businesses.

What aspects of your party platform do you think are most important to highlight for northwestern Ontario?

A Conservative government will secure a recovery for northwestern Ontario by helping local businesses re-open and create jobs, including by aiding hard-hit sectors like tourism and hospitality and supporting our forestry and mining industries.

We will also make historic investments in mental health and addictions treatment, and fix Canada’s affordable housing crisis by building more homes and bringing more rental units into the market.

And we’ll invest in rural and northern infrastructure, including digital infrastructure to deliver internet to every region of the country by 2025.

Remi Rheault, Green Party of Canada

Remi Rheault is the Green Party of Canada candidate in the Kenora riding in the 2021 federal election. (Supplied by Remi Rheault)

Tell us about yourself and what makes you qualified to be an MP for northwestern Ontario. 

Born in Sudbury, Ont. Moved around this beautiful land many times of the last 59 years. Live life at almost every aspect that one could. Worked hard, grew, adapted, and learned. Understand the concepts of living in a resource-based economy, and so much more. Started my first of many trades at 13 years, that of a cobbler from my dad. After changing my life around by going back to my heritage and its culture, the path before me was clear: To place people above profits, and humanity above all. Took a proactive approach to helping others, for all life is precious. The climate crisis is of great importance and the technology to make these changes are available.

Our listeners have identified climate change as their No. 1 concern this election. What is your party’s greenhouse gas emissions target and timeline, and what policies will you put into place to reach that target? 

The Green Party targets a 60 per cent reduction by 2030. This can be achieved when we all work together for that common goal. This is an aggressive stance, and it can be achieved by re-directing funds to create the shift required. That would include labour, infrastructure, training, and education.

What do you feel are the biggest environmental issues facing the northwest and how will you address them?

This riding of Kenora is very large and each community has their own main issues when it come to climate crisis. The one that some communities figure will not affect them because of distance is the nuclear waste site. This site close to Ignace, should never get approval. It is on one of the most important watersheds, feed a minimum of three provinces, and flows both north and south. Can it cause issues around the City of Kenora, or Sioux Lookout and more? Absolutely. Nuclear needs to stop, and production of the waste needs to be cut back until there is none. Next is land cleanup by those corporation that leave a work site in total disrespect for mother earth. Then as an overall issue is the damage by pipelines, there should be no new pipelines.

Our listeners have also listed economic recovery and ending poverty as two important issues for the next government. How do you think we can promote economic recovery in the northwest while also lifting people out of poverty?

The Green Party policy is to help with a Universal Basic Income. This can lead to retraining, education and building an equitable labour force.

Our listeners have told us that they are very concerned about Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people. What will your party do to repair that relationship? 

The Green Party believes in the rekindling of the original treaty relationship of respect and equality. This can be done by repealing the Doctrine of Discovery from a governmental point, and the removal of the Indian Act.

What aspects of your party platform do you think are most important to highlight for northwestern Ontario?

This is a really hard question, and upon reflection, there would be the top three:

  • Climate Crisis
  • Affordable Housing
  • Respectful Tribal/Clan Governance to Government Relationship.

Janine Seymour, New Democratic Party

Janine Seymour is the New Democratic Party candidate in the Kenora riding in the 2021 federal election. (Supplied by Janine Seymour)

Tell us about yourself and what makes you qualified to be an MP for northwestern Ontario.

I’m an Anishnaabe lawyer, arbitrator, mother and activist. I have a Master of Laws degree and am published in an international law journal. I’m passionate about life, Manitou Aki (our Mother Earth), my community, and my Nation!

Our listeners have identified climate change as their No. 1 concern this election. What is your party’s greenhouse gas emissions target and timeline, and what policies will you put into place to reach that target?

The NDP is committed to getting to net-zero  emissions, and we’re determined to reduce emissions by at least 50 percent from 2005 levels to 2015.

What do you feel are the biggest environmental issues facing the northwest and how will you address them?

This summer forest fires smashed records, laying waste to huge swathes of land, and displacing people who have resided here since time immemorial. Recent forest fires are directly related to the affects of climate change. We have the technology and the expertise to tackle these problems. What differentiates the NDP from other parties, is that we are the catalyst of change.

We have the responsibility to care for nibi (water), and all waters of Turtle Island. Wildlife too, rely on the healing powers of nibi, both on and off the land and in water. The waters are currently being compromised by unprecedented warm temperatures, as well as by pollutants.

Our listeners have also listed economic recovery and ending poverty as two important issues for the next government. How do you think we can promote economic recovery in the northwest while also lifting people out of poverty?

In addition to supporting pulp and mill industry, the NDP has pledged to ensure that FedNor be established as a standalone. It will be easier for people to do business by improving transportation and broadband access and speed; both are needed to ensure active participation in the marketplace.

I believe a healthy economy is a sustainable one.

Our listeners have told us that they are very concerned about Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people. What will your party do to repair that relationship?

The NDP will take a free, prior and informed consent approach to all our relations. It has been shown that the current model does not work and we are committed to uprooting it. As an Anishinabekwe and survivor of intergenerational trauma, I understand the importance of providing space to be heard and be listened to.

What aspects of your party platform do you think are most important to highlight for northwestern Ontario?

The riding of Kenora, which is the size of France, must be made more accessible. It must be easier for us to get together, to do business and to exchange ideas. Improved transportation and broadband internet access will do wonders for the economy of the north, address the side effects of isolation, and help us in the process of improving relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The NDP is determined to make everyone’s voice heard.

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