Cypress Hills-Grasslands Conservative Party candidate Jeremy Patzer formally kicked off his campaign during an event at his campaign office in Swift Current, Sept. 21.
He has been door knocking since the federal election was called on Sept. 11, but he has actually been in campaign mode for much earlier due to the Conservative Party’s nomination race in the riding.
“I've really been campaigning since March with the nomination, so I've been at it for quite a while, but so far it's been really good,” he told the Prairie Post. “The reception at the doors have been fantastic. A lot of people are motivated to get out and vote, especially this time around with the way that things have gone over the last four years. So the response has been terrific.”
He was one of six candidates in a contested nomination process, which he won in June. This opportunity to enter the political arena came up after David Anderson, the long-time Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills-Grasslands, announced earlier this year he will not be running in the 2019 election.
Patzer will be a familiar face to active party members in the riding, because he has been serving on the board of directors for the Conservative Party Constituency Association for the past four years.
The Conservative Party won with a large majority in this riding in five federal elections since 2004, but he will not be taking anything for granted in this election.
“I don't want to assume anything,” he said. “So my goal is to get out to as many of the towns as I can get to. I want people to get a chance to know who I am, to know that they're voting not just for the party but they're voting for Jeremy Patzer. David had a fantastic career and he's done a lot of great things for our riding, but I got to build my brand. So I want people to get to know me and to get to know who I am and I'm going to put the hard work in. I've put a lot of miles on the truck already, I've knocked on a ton of doors and I'm going to keep doing that. The key to victory is getting to know people and meeting them where they're at.”
The issue of affordability will be a key part of his message when he talks to people during his campaign.
“Our campaign slogan is that it's time for you to get ahead,” he said. “We can look at the needless spending that's going on by the current government and yet people here are feeling pinched. There are always more taxes, there's always something else going on that's taking money out of people's pockets. We should leave more money in people's pockets to start the day. We shouldn't be taking it from them and then redistributing it. Ideally people should just have more of their own money in their own pockets.”
He mentioned a number of policy proposals by the Conservative Party that is aimed at reducing the cost of living for people.
“Things like removing the GST off home heating and energy bills, that's going to accomplish that,” he said. “Lowering the tax bracket on the first income tax bracket, that's going to be good, it impacts everybody. And the carbon tax obviously is a big one, because that affects the cost of living for everybody. We've got seniors on fixed incomes. Their costs are going up and up with policy like that.”
Several issues have come up repeatedly whenever he speaks to people in the riding about their concerns.
“A lot of it boils down to how the west has been treated by our government,” he said. “They just want to make sure that we're being heard. …We can look at the pipelines, we can look at agriculture and the lack of support we received from the government. Those are some of the key things that have been coming up as well. And for the party, affordability is what we're going after and that's resonating with people at the doors as well.”
He noted that the local economy in Swift Current and elsewhere in the riding is geared towards the agricultural and energy sectors.
“So we want to make sure that we're protecting those industries and that we're supporting them, and I think there's a lot of room for growth within that and in turn that will support small businesses as well, because Swift Current and this whole entire riding is home to some of the best small businesses in the country,” he said.
He referred to the Conservative Party’s proposal to create a national energy corridor across the country, which he felt will help to address the feeling of alienation in western Canada.
“The energy that we developed here in western Canada, we're world leaders when it comes to environmental standards, when it comes to our safety and the regulations that we follow, and getting that message out to the rest of the country so that they know this is world class that we have here and this is what is supporting our entire economy across the country,” he said. “I think that will be a big part of it. Andrew Scheer has a big part to play in that. He grew up in Ottawa, but he's been living in Saskatchewan for quite a while. So he understands the issues, both eastern and western, and he's the right man to unite this country.”
Patzer thinks changes to the federal equalization formula is something that needs to be looked at. The issue of western separation is something that he is not thinking about, because he is more interested in ways to unite the country.
“I'm thinking about getting a strong Conservative government, because we need to keep this country together,” he said. “Canada functions better as a whole, not as two separate entities, and that's what we're striving towards.”
The immigration policy of political parties might be one of the main issues that voters will think about during the election. Patzer said immigration is a very important part of Canada.
“Everybody that you talk to, they've got a story about their family immigrating to Canada,” he mentioned. “So immigration is very important.”
He added that it is necessary to ensure the processing of immigration applications will take place in a timely fashion. He also feels strongly about the need to keep families together and to reunite them as soon as possible when a member of the family comes to Canada.
“I've talked to too many people that have had the husband come and then it takes five years for the rest of the family to come,” he said. “That's not how it should be. We need to make sure that we have our offices staffed so that we can keep families together. We don't want families being split when they're coming to Canada. We want to keep families united.”
Voters will cast their ballots on Oct. 21 in this federal election. Four other parties have nominated candidates in the Cypress Hills-Grasslands electoral district. Lee Harding is the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada, Trevor Peterson is standing for the New Democratic Party, Bill Caton represents the Liberal Party, and Bill Clary is the candidate for the Green Party. Nominations for candidates will close on Sept. 30, after which Elections Canada will release the final list of confirmed candidates.