OUTLOOK - Just a short while ago, Fraser Tolmie was the mayor of the city of Moose Jaw.
Now, he's resigned and decided to join the federal political arena as the Conservative candidate in the Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan riding.
In getting to know the constituency, Tolmie appeared in Outlook on Wednesday morning, September 1, speaking to a few dozen people who came out to the Legion Hall to hear his views and ask him about the issues that are important to voters in the region.
During the open forum-type gathering where he spoke to those gathered, Tolmie promised multiple visits to the area if elected and said he believes that Conservatives feel "left out in the West" and that this portion of the country wasn't "included in the conversation" as far as having a voice on making any meaningful progress forward for the country.
When asked his thoughts on other party leaders, particularly Maxime Bernier of the PPC, Tolmie wasn't shy.
"I think that party is there to support his ego," he said.
As for any sort of prediction come election time, Tolmie shared his belief that there's a chance of a minority Conservative government, but that "we've got to clean up the mess" left behind by the current Liberals.
In speaking with The Outlook after the open house had concluded, Tolmie said the people that he's spoken to on the campaign trail so far, including those in Outlook and area, have left him impressed.
"Everybody's been very warm, and it's just typical of Saskatchewan to have people open their hearts to you," said Fraser. "They're very honest and I'm really impressed with the community. I'm not as familiar with the it as much as I'd like to, but I want to get to know Outlook a lot more. I'd really like to get my kids out into the province and explore what's in our riding. It's an education, and I want to know not only the people within the community, but also the history of the community and what it has to provide."
Tolmie says it's been a whirlwind since the writ was dropped, with he and his people just trying to get themselves grounded while trying to get their message out.
"It has been very, very busy," he said. "We just finished a nomination race and a week later, we're into a campaign. Right after the writ was dropped, I resigned as Mayor of the City of Moose Jaw. It was the right thing to do and to put my focus on this election. We've been facing the challenge of time. We're almost three weeks away to the end of the election and you're trying to get out and meet people in the communities, and it all feels like out of the frying pan and into the fire."
The most predominant thing that people are talking to Tolmie about on the campaign trail is simply making sure that they have a voice when it comes to the political arena in Ottawa, as federal politics have a way of turning things into an East vs West type of platform.
"One of the things that's in the forefront when I was out in the riding is about representation," he said. "Really, it's about connectivity. We've just gone through a pandemic for over a year now, and people are feeling isolated and they want to feel connected. One of the things that I want to be able to do is reach out to communities. Zoom is great because you can do business, but really, when connecting with people, you want that one-on-one experience."
Politics in general is something that Tolmie says he's always enjoyed.
"It's a passion that I've always had," he said. "It's a value system, and I think we have to preserve that. I think we need to have that reset and really talk about democracy as a value and being able to share and discuss our different points of view. I think it's a great platform, and there's nothing that compares to it."
Jumping from city politics in Moose Jaw to the federal stage brings with it different responsibilities, but Tolmie says it can also retain some of the same values along the way.
"The differences are obviously the areas of responsibility," he said. "Municipalities, you're dealing with parks, roads, water, snow removal, things like that. But what really is the same is the people. I've always thought that the potential of a community is in its people. The potential of Outlook is in its people. The potential of our riding is in its people. Really, that's what we need to focus on. This community cares about each other, and they care about the future of their country."
As he continues on the campaign trail, Tolmie says what he's hearing from people is that they don't feel valued and they don't feel like as if they have a true voice in Ottawa. He hopes to be the person to bridge the gap and restore equal representation, no matter where one calls home in Canada.
"What I've been hearing is people have not felt valued and have not been heard," he said. "That's one of the things that I want to be able to combat. People are getting fed news, and they want to be able to express and share their perspective on what's being discussed. They want to feel valued because we're a nation of builders, growers, inventors and pioneers. Really, that's still within our DNA as people and we want to bring something to the table. When we're not valued and we're not heard, it creates frustration."
If Tolmie does indeed emerge victorious, he says he's going to be busy learning all the ins and outs of his new political arena, but he says he wants to bring focus to the issues that are important to people who call his riding home.
"I'd say it's getting to know the ropes," he said. "I really want to understand the workings of Ottawa. I think if you do that, then you're able to find ways forward and to be able to move the issues and agendas that you have that come from a constituency. Really, the priority is for issues from our communities to be addressed in Ottawa. I really think that we need to be a voice IN Ottawa, as opposed to being a voice FOR Ottawa."
Canadians head to the polls on Monday, September 20.