Lloydminster Comprehensive High School (LCHS) teacher Michelle Oleksyn is the new NDP candidate for the provincial Saskatchewan riding of Lloydminster.
Oleksyn was named to the position at a nomination ceremony in the Best Canadian Motor Inn conference room on April 17. Oleksyn will challenge former Lloydminster Public School Division trustee and incumbent MLA Colleen Young in the next provincial election, projected to be held in spring 2016.
“Why am I here? The people of Saskatchewan deserve better than our current government is giving them,” Oleksyn she said in her speech. “The people in this community contribute to this economy big time and this year the government will spend even more. But who’s getting this advantage? Where’s all the money going? I keep hearing form Saskatchewan people that they’re just not feeling the benefits of the economy.”
Oleksyn originally grew up in Turtleford and has been living in Lloydminster since 2003. She earned a bachelor education degree at the University of Alberta in 1987 and has taught in southern and western Saskatchewan and ran a family farm with her husband for 10 years. She says she has always been involved in local community groups and church service clubs including the Lioness Club, 4-H Club, parents’ organizations as well as recreation boards and skating and hockey clubs. This is her first foray into politics.
About 30 supporters filled the room to watch Oleksyn accept the nomination, including former Lloydminster NDP candidate Wayne Byers and NDP Leader Cam Broten. Broten says that a lot of educators are stepping forward as candidates for his party.
“I look forward, Michelle, to seeing you take on Colleen Young in the next election,” Broten said. “I’ve heard her say very little in the legislature when it comes to standing up to education and when it comes to standing up for the constituency of Lloydminster.”
Broten says that Young has been “fairly quiet” in the legislative assembly, but mentioned that she did play an important symbolic role as the MLA that seconded the provincial budget in March.
“I wish she had actually read the budget before she seconded it and then I think she would have seen that maybe that wasn’t the best thing to be doing for the people of this province,” he said. “We see a budget that increases spending to record levels, but at the same time it’s full of waste and fails to deliver opportunities for young people, fails to deliver fairness and affordability for families and fails to deliver dignity and security for seniors. It’s also a budget that adds $1.5 billion in debt in this year alone. That’s not a good budget for the province and it’s not a good budget for this constituency and if Colleen was acting in the best interest of the people of Lloydminster, she wouldn’t have seconded that budget.”
Oleksyn says that teaching is her passion and she will advocate for improved education in the province.
“We want to make sure that the roof isn’t leaking. We want to make sure that we have a safe environment for our students and that we have the best quality curriculum that we can to provide good quality education so that when (students graduate) they have a high level of integrity and can move into our province and be the future of our province,” she said.