A prairie tour was very important to Niki Ashton, a federal leadership candidate for the New Democrat Party, for it gave her a chance to connect with the roots of Tommy Douglas in Weyburn, and her own prairie roots.
Ashton is the MP of Manitoba’s Churchill-Keewatinook Aski district. “I am proud to be from the prairies. This is where I am from, and this is where I learned to be a New Democrat.”
“It was very important for me to visit Weyburn, considering our party’s roots due to Tommy Douglas.”
Ashton gathered with local supporters at the Tommy Douglas Centre to give them the chance to have their voices heard at the federal level. Discussion topics involved economic challenges, inequality and what direction local members would like the federal party to take.
The New Democrats are still in the early stages of their federal leadership race. “We have had two national debates. Right now, we have a bit of pause on our debates as the next one will be the end of May.”
“Our campaign has seen a lot of positive feedback and a lot of people are excited about the message that I am putting forward, which is by being a movement and effecting political change.”
“We have two big challenges ahead of us, growing in equality and climate change,” said Ashton. “During my prairie tour, I am hearing from many young people how expensive it is to live in Saskatchewan, and that there is an inter-generational equality that must be faced.”
There are a few lessons that the New Democrat Party took from the 2015 election. “We forgot to stand by some of the policies that we had in the past, including job creation projects. We also perhaps lost touch with some of the real energy that is out there in our country, and some of the sustainable approaches of addressing climate change for our country.”
“Canada is shifting. I think of some of the battles that Tommy Douglas had fought and how that pendulum is now shifting back, and there are inequalities between the working class and the ‘rich and powerful’ in our nation.”
“We had some very progressive policies in the last election, but we need to do a better job of being bold when addressing those issues,” said Ashton.
In addition to being proud of being from the prairies, Ashton wants to address some of the prairies issues at the federal level. “As the cost of living continues to be high across the prairies, we need the federal government that will be part of the solution. We need a federal government that will stand up for the working class and for Canadian jobs.”