Election Day is Monday, Sept. 20. Polls in Cold Lake will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Your employer is legally required to give you time to vote.
You must be a Canadian citizen and at least 18 to vote. If you have not received a voter ID in the mail, you can arrive at your polling station with two pieces of ID proving your identity and address.
Acceptable IDs are listed here. Your polling station can be found here. Footage of the all-candidates forum organized by the Cold Lake Chamber of Commerce can be found here.
Abdifatah Abdi, the Liberal Party of Canada’s candidate for the riding, did not return multiple requests for an interview. He also did not attend the candidates forum in Cold Lake on Sept. 9.
MP candidates in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake are listed alphabetically. These interviews were condensed for space and clarity.
Brian Deheer, Green Party of Canada
Lac La Biche resident Deheer has been running for the Green Party since the 2014 federal byelection. He has also ran for the provincial Green Party, of which he is president. Deheer has admitted in previous interviews he was going to lose. He doesn’t care, though. What matters to him, he said, is that voters who believe in the party platform have the option to vote for the party.
What do you think voters should know about you?
I’ve lived in Lac La Biche for almost 30 years and work as a musician and music instructor. This is my seventh time running for the Green Party. I ran three times provincially and this is my fourth time doing it federally. It’s important for me that people have the choice to vote Green here.
Even though the Conservatives have a stronghold in the riding, people who identify with the Green Party should still vote because it sends a message to Ottawa and other voters that not everyone is the same. There is diversity in ideas here.
What issues are important to the riding?
I think there’s a lot of work to be done for the oil and gas industry here to demonstrate that they really are the safest and cleanest operations in the world. The local watersheds are very important to me. It’s been a year since the Commission for Environmental Cooperation released a report on Alberta tailing ponds and how there is seepage into the nearby groundwater. Having clean water is important for biodiversity.
The oil and gas industry is going through a shift. The oilsands are becoming more automated so we are losing jobs. The global demand is shifting away from burning fossil fuels but I still see a role for other petroleum based oil products like plastics, rubber, fertilizers and so on. The Green Party supports a shift towards more renewable energy sources, solar, wind and ground source heat exchange.
Reconciliation is also really important to me. There is still so much to do. We must respect the treaties and honour the 94 calls to action. Many of those are still waiting to be carried out. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report has a lot of similar recommendations. Those are extremely important. We really need to be working on those. I’m still learning, but I’d like to see more Indigenous people involved in creating national policies that address their needs.
There has been some internal turmoil within the Green Party under Annamie Paul’s leadership. What do you think about that and how it might affect voters?
There have certainly been some tensions and issues within the green party that doesn’t make it look good but Annamie Paul has done well in the debates and the party has a lot to offer. I certainly hope she wins her seat in Toronto Centre.
How do you feel about vaccine mandates and vaccine passports?
I feel it’s very important that people get vaccinated. I’ve received both vaccinations. As for passports, I’m not sure where I stand on that because I know that’s something that can limit people’s ability to travel.
What are your thoughts on electoral reform?
Democratic reform is something Mr. Trudeau promised in 2015. There was lots of money spent on an electoral reform commission. Lots of work went into that and there were some good recommendations for a system that would involve proportional representation—systems that are very effective in a lot of other democracies around the world. And to my great disappointment, although maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, that 2015 was not to be the last election where we use the “first past the post” system. And we continue to do that.
Laila Goodridge, Conservative Party of Canada
Goodridge has spent her entire adult life in conservative politics. After campaigning for PC, Wildrose and Conservative candidates since she was a teenager, she was elected UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin (now Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche) in a 2018 byelection. When David Yurdiga resigned as Fort McMurray-Cold Lake MP one day before the election was announced, Goodridge was acclaimed as the party’s candidate for the riding. The board of the Fort McMurray-Cold Lake Electoral District Association says it does not support or recognize the appointment of Laila Goodridge to run for the Conservatives in that riding this federal election. In a statement, the association’s board says it was “blindsided” by the decision by the Conservative Party of Canada to appoint Goodridge as its candidate without running a nomination contest. Goodridge did not attend the Sept. 9 candidate forum in Cold Lake.
How is the campaign going and what are you hearing from voters?
The campaign is going really well, and my team and I have been hitting the doors and connecting directly with voter from across the riding. We are overwhelmingly hearing that people are worried about what another Justin Trudeau government means for our region – and more specifically our oil and gas sector. Many have shared that they don’t think that we can withstand another four years of Justin Trudeau in charge.
Many people are sharing that they are excited by the positive campaign of Canada’s Conservatives and are impressed with Erin O’Toole’s leadership. I have heard lots of great feedback on our positive platform and how it will deliver jobs for our region.
We need to elect someone that has a comprehensive plan to ensure that Canada’s recovery is priority number one, and only the Conservatives have that detailed plan to secure jobs and the economy while also investing in mental health supports, bringing back accountability and making sure that we are prepared for the next crisis.
Why should the riding stick with the Conservative party?
The short answer is that our region can’t take another four years of Justin Trudeau at the wheel, and electing conservatives is the only real way to prevent that.
Beyond that, Canada’s Conservative’s will stick up for our oil and gas industry and ensure that Western Canada has a seat at the table. The Trudeau Liberals sadly do not understand or respect the West, and our party has the experience and the national presence to make sure Alberta’s voice is heard and respected.
What made you decide to resign as MLA and run federally after Yurdiga’s last-minute resignation?
I was impressed by Erin O’Toole’s commitment to Canada and his servant leadership. I really like his inclusive vision for Canada where we must always strive to represent all Canadians regardless of their age, religion, colour, background, gender, or sexual orientation.
I could really relate to Erin O’Toole and in many ways as we had a similar middle-class upbringing – his dad worked for General Motors for over 30 years and my dad only recently retired from a more than 40 year career at Syncrude. Understanding the value in hard work and supporting working families and workers helps keep our economy going forward.
Also I really identified with the positive common sense platform that touches on many important issues for families and individuals. From bereavement leave for parents that have suffered the loss of a child, to treating our addiction and opioid crisis as the urgent health issue it is. We need to get Canada back on track and Canada’s Conservative’s have the best plan to get us there.
Shawn McDonald, People’s Party of Canada
McDonald was born and raised on the Kikino Métis Settlement. He is the owner of Black Scorpion Contracting and president of Resource One Aboriginal Business Association (ROABA), both of which are based in Lac La Biche. Like many PPC supporters, McDonald spent years as a loyal supporter of the Conservative Party. He left the party two months ago out of frustration with current leader Erin O’Toole, who he calls “liberal-lite.”
Why have you decided to run for the People’s Party of Canada?
I feel a calling for me to step up and do this. I’m grassroots, I’m business-minded and a believer in the grassroots. I am not a career politician, nor did I ever think I would want to be one, but I feel my calling is to stand up for people and our freedoms.
I have concerns about free speech with this government and I’m also concerned about vaccination mandates. I’m fine with vaccines. My wife and one of my boys is vaccinated, but myself and my other boy choose not to. That’s our choice.
I know COVID-19 is real, it’s deadly and a major threat, but it should be our choice if we want to wear the mask and protect ourselves. We’re seeing our freedoms disappear fast and that’s what it comes down to: freedom. That’s what you’re voting for.
Why should Fort McMurray-Cold Lake consider voting PPC after sticking with the Conservative Party for so long?
I spoke with Maxime (Bernier) for over an hour and by the time we ended that conversation, he had won me over. He told me, “Shawn, if you win this riding, this is your riding.” I can choose to change the policy or platforms to fit my riding. This riding is different than a riding in Ontario or Newfoundland. We have different needs and outlooks. One platform across the board isn’t going to fit everywhere.
A vote for the Conservative Party is just as bad as voting for the Liberals or NDP. They’re not opposing gun control laws, lockdowns or forced vaccinations. The PPC is the only party that is. They’re like Liberals and the PPC are hardcore true Conservatives, the conservatives of the past and of Stephen Harper.
Why should disgruntled conservatives join the PPC and not the Maverick Party?
I’m no separatist. I like the way the Maverick Party is going, but I do not want Alberta to separate from this country. There’s so much division in our country. I’m a Métis man. I’ve grown up with racism and division. Leaving would create more division. Look at the lockdowns and masks: division, division, division. We need to work on uniting the country.
The PPC has been accused of pandering to white supremacists and conspiracy theorists. In 2019 there were party members who resigned because they felt the party was attracting racists. What are your thoughts on that?
I’m a Métis man. If there was any sign of racism in this party, I would not be involved. I heard the negative rhetoric about the PPC and it was on my mind. But it does not exist. I advise people to do your own homework. You’re talking to an Indigenous man and an Indigenous leader who is proud of his heritage. If there was any racism, I would have no part of it.
I believe in fighting for all people’s rights, not only Indigenous people but all people of Canada and I want to be there for everybody. No matter where you are in the riding. No matter what you do, who you are, what colour your skin is, we all need to stick together and remain united and not divided with the current policies that are in place.
Were you surprised when the riding’s former Conservative MP, David Yurdiga, endorsed your campaign shortly after he resigned?
No. David and I go way back We’ve been friends for many years. As president of ROABA, he was a big supporter of ours and attended our pro-pipeline rally. Laila Goodridge also did, but David has always been there for me. He’s an old-school conservative and stood up for his values when he took the stance he did on vaccines. Now he is no longer in the party. The same thing happened to other candidates who took the same position. You can read between the lines what happened there.
Do you support a basic universal income?
To me that’s unfair that someone can sit on the couch all day and play video games and make the same amount as somebody willing to get off their butt and work for it.
Do you support vaccine mandates or vaccine passports?
It comes down to the freedom of choice. The government should not be the ones that are dictating our choice. If you want to be vaccinated, I’m all for it.
Jonathan Meyers, Maverick Party
Meyers is a plumber who has lived across Alberta, but has called Fort McMurray home for six years. The goal of the Maverick Party, which was formally known as the Wexit Party, is to promote the interests of western Canada in Parliament or the separation of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and the three territories. As interim party leader Jay Hill told the National Post, “We can learn from Quebec… Who can realistically argue that the Bloc hasn’t been successful for the last 30 years?” This is Meyers’ first time running in an election.
Jonathan Meyers is a plumber who has lived across Alberta, but has called Fort McMurray home for six years. The goal of the Maverick Party, which was formally known as the Wexit Party, is to promote the interests of western Canada in Parliament or the separation of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and the three territories. This is his first time running in an election.
Why not the Conservative Party or PPC?
The Maverick Party is the only western-only party. Part of the downfall between the PPC and CPC is their power base is in Eastern Canada. The Western MPs are whipped into voting the party line, which is becoming more oriented towards the east. The Maverick Party will put the west first.
I’ve been a conservative all my life and it’s been the same old story: the east dictates to the west instead of having the west’s voice heard in Ottawa. We’ve had Conservative MPs in the west for decades and we haven’t really gotten what we want or what we need. A western Bloc party is the solution to that.
Why should Fort McMurray-Cold lake consider the Maverick Party?
We care a lot about western autonomy and getting Ottawa out of our homes. We believe the best government is one that is closest to you. We care about western autonomy. We support pipelines and oppose the carbon tax. We want to work towards resource corridors and fair trade between provinces. It’s easier to trade with the U.S. than other Canadian provinces. That would require amendments we would need to push for. We’re just trying to get a fair deal for the west.
We’re in the final days of the campaign. These elections belong to Eastern Canada. They take the Western vote for granted. The west is different from the east. Our industries are different. Our wants and needs are different.
Members for Parliament from the large federal parties I believe have the best intentions for their constituents they want to serve but the reality is once they get to Ottawa they will just be warm bodies filling up a comfortable seat in the House of Commons waiting for their federal leader to tell them which way to vote on important issues. The Maverick Party will support the best interest of Western Canadians and only support legislation that benefits our constituents and the west.
Western Canada deserves the same recognition that Quebec gets in confederation. Western Canada needs constitutional changes to achieve equality and self-determination. Western Canadians want their voices heard in Ottawa.
First Nations have treaties with the Crown, which is represented by Ottawa. What happens if First Nations don’t want to leave Canada?
Treaties would have to be renegotiated. But we’re setting up a foundation. The Bloc have had a separatist party for 30 years and that’s what we’re working towards, but we want dialogue with the chiefs and the band councils. But after the way they have been treated by Ottawa, I feel many of them would feel we could offer them a better deal with the western provinces.
What do you think the plan should be to diversify the economy in the riding?
The government does not create jobs. The government can only incentive things or quash certain industries. The answer to diversifying the economy is to allow the economy to diversify itself. I think the solution for a diversified economy is let the market create the jobs, the industries and the diversity it will create. It will be what the people want; they will demand it; and they will be willing to pay for it.
Do you support a universal basic income?
I am against a universal basic income. I do not support that policy. I do believe it brings us closer to socialism.
Do you support vaccine mandates or vaccine passports?
We support a person’s choice and their freedom. We believe a person’s medical decisions are made with their doctor and not with their politician. We’re not anti-vax. We think people who want to be vaccinated should be and those who don’t should not be forced to. We are against government overreach and coercion. We would prefer to have that issue left up to individuals.
Garnett Robninson, New Democratic Party
Robinson is a retired child youth care worker who spent 36 years with Child and Family Services in Lac La Biche. He was also active with his chapter of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) that represents the social services fields.
Could you tell people a little about yourself?
I am very recently retired. I was a government employee for 36 years working as a child youth care worker for Child and Family Services in Lac La Biche. I was very active in the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees with the local 006, which represents the social services fields. My work with the federal and provincial government has been through the union, which is very political.
I came out here 1985 and I planned to be here for five years and I decided to stay.
In my 36 years here, I’ve become very familiar with the issues of Northern Alberta, particularly in a small rural community. In our communities, we have high prices for consumables and housing, high costs for Internet and cell service. which can be poor, particularly along the road on highway areas. Dropping cell service is a common occurrence.
What issues do you think are important for the Fort McMurray- Cold Lake region?
Climate change is coming true. We’ve had the fire in Fort McMurray and last year there was the flood. There has been flooding in Lac La Biche too. We’re seeing summers reach peak temperatures. The forest fire threats are getting worse and that will affect the oil sands development. We need to start exploring sustainable industries and I think there is a great opportunity to begin transitioning workers in this area to work in other energy industries. We already have a group of very skilled workers who could do these new jobs.
We have concerns about balancing environmental issues with jobs. I believe we can have good jobs and a clean environment. These are not mutually exclusive.
Diversifying the economy is extremely important. Right now Alberta has a single source of focus for income and that’s the oil and gas.
In this region we have Treaty 6, Treaty 8 and the Metis settlements. Reconciliation is extremely important.
High quality day care is a concern that is near and dear to my heart. I raised two children in this area and it was extremely difficult to find good quality day care. You could find people who were willing to watch your children, along with 10 other children. That’s not good quality day care. One of my daughters went to the Lac La Biche day dare program and I was the chairperson of the board there. One of the things I was extremely disturbed at is we were paying pennies more than minimum age to day care workers. That’s just wrong. We actually had some extremely good day care workers. They had the education but you couldn’t keep them because why would they stay when they were being paid a pittance? It’s just wrong. We need to do more for proper training, for proper standards and proper pay for day care. We can’t be subjecting our young children to just anybody off the street who wants to make a few bucks off our children.
Local NDP supporters in the riding would like to see more of a party presence in the area. How could this be addressed?
I go back to my union experience on this. People want the union to do something but it is also the people, on the ground, who have to do the work. It’s the same with the NDP. Supporters need to help make the party more visible.
Why do you think voters in the riding, who have typically voted Conservative in the past, should consider voting for the NDP?
People have to look at the past. For the last 36 years that I’ve lived in the area people have always voted for some form of Conservative and we need to ask ourselves what has that gotten us? The people elected tow the party line, vote what the party wants and don’t hear the issues that are important here locally. So if you vote Conservative you are voting someone to tow the party line where as I view my role with the NDP to listen and advocate for what the people want here. It’s my view that you should vote for a person who will represent your local area first. That person will of course belong to a political party that may have a leader that becomes prime minister.
What do you think of some of the ugliness we’re seeing in national politics today?
I think it’s very concerning that we can’t have civil disagreements. People shouldn’t be throwing rocks or swearing at candidates they disagree with or, like Jagmeet Singh, look different. If I am elected as an MP, I am certainly willing to talk to people and listen to them and try to represent them the best that I can, even if I don’t agree with them.
What are your thoughts on universal basic income?
What universal basic income will do is it will make things more even, more fair across the country. It will provide people with a basic income so we can have a trickle up economy instead of trickle down. If we can provide income to everybody so they can afford to pay for things then we can get rid of a whole bunch of social programs. Studies have shown it reduces crime, it improves health outcomes and a number of other things for people.
How do you feel about vaccine passports and vaccine mandates?
This is interesting question. No one is being held down and having a needle forced into their arm. That’s not happening. What is happening, and this has happened in my life, is that there were certain things that I couldn’t do unless I had certain vaccines and tests. I used to work in a hospital. I had to get TB tests every year. There’s various vaccines I had to have. Was I forced to have them? Nobody was forcing me to have it. But there were going to be repercussions if I didn’t. It’s kind of the same with a passport. Nobody is forcing you to have a passport. I don’t have one right now because I’m not travelling anywhere but I do have a driver’s licence because I like to go place to place. A driver’s licence is kind of similar to a passport. It is the pass to drive. There are many businesses now that are clamouring for vaccine passports because if they had vaccine passports they wouldn’t have to cut off liquor sales at 10 pm, for instance, because they would be able to say the people in here have had their vaccines. We’re confident because they have the government ID. If you want to do those things then maybe you have to go get a passport. Or don’t. It’s up to you.
Hughie Shane Whitmore, Veterans Coalition Party of Canada
Whitmore moved to Fort McMurray in 1977 to work for Syncrude after serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. He spent years involved with his construction union, which he feels has prepared him for politics.
Could you tell people a little about yourself?
I’ve been working in construction since 1977. I came up to Fort McMurray and helped build Syncrude. I’m ex-military. I was in the navy. I was involved with my construction union for years, so I know about politics. For me, it is all about accountability. Politics should support the working class. I want to have the books open so people can see the truth about what is going on in Canada. People on a job site don’t have time to lobby the government for their issues. That’s why there is a Member of Parliament, who can ask people about what is going on in the local area and not worry about towing the party line. Most politicians in Canada don’t know what it’s like to struggle and live pay cheque to pay cheque. I do. I’m a construction worker. I’m a tradesman. I want to bring common sense to politics in Ottawa and I’d really like to bring the opinions of the working class to the Parliament building to make them understand.
The constituents are the priority and Western Canada is our priority but it’s all of Canada also. Because every province and territory is part of Canada. We have to be able to work together to make things right for us all.
What issues do you think are important for the Fort McMurray- Cold Lake region?
Taxation is killing us all. When a company makes a product, they will include what they paid for the carbon tax in the price they charge the consumer. It’s the Canadian people paying the full price of the carbon tax. We’re being charged and taxed to pay for the natural gas they take out of our land. As someone who is Metis, I think that’s wrong.
In the Veterans Coalition, it’s in our platform that we will aim to cut the salaries of Members of Parliament by 30 per cent. How long has it been since Adrienne Clarkson was Governor General of Canada? Does she really still need a federal expense account? We need to reduce these political pension funds.
And we’ve been fighting to have a pipeline put in so our oil can go to the coast or a refinery in the U.S. Why not build our own refineries here? If we had three plants here that would create a lot of jobs for people and we could sell oil for market price.
What made you decide to run for the Veterans Coalition?
I’m looking at the fact my grandkids are probably going to still be paying our federal debt? Taxes are just us paying the government to work. Money is very tight for the average Joe. In the last election, I looked up the Veterans Coalition to support it and it turned out they didn’t have anyone running in our riding, so now here I am. The Veterans Coalition is a working class party. As far as I know, we don’t have any lawyers in our party. We are just every day citizens.
Why should voters, who typically vote Conservative in this riding, consider the Veterans Coalition?
If you want to have real change, you should vote for someone who will represent the people that elected them. I will vote for what the constituents want. In my party, we’re not about having everyone tow the party line. If I wanted to do that, they’d kick me out. I won’t keep any secrets about what is happening in this country. Since I’m a carpenter, I think a lot like a carpenter. If you are fixing a home, you don’t build on top of a faulty foundation. You fix the foundation first. I’m ready to lace up my boots and go to war. It’s time to push back. In the military, we give an oath to protect Canadian citizens. I swore an oath to protect this country. That oath is for life.
Do you support a basic universal income?
I’m a very strong believer in life that what you get in life is what you work for. . . with basic income, I can understand people want to have a basic amount of money, but you have to work for that basic income. Having everybody else paying you to stay at home just doesn’t cut it. That is socialism at its heart and I can’t condone that.
What are your thoughts on vaccine passports and vaccine mandates?
The bottom line is freedom of choice. I chose to get both shots. That was my choice. I’m dead against vaccine passports.