With the federal election just having been called, Battlefords-Lloydminster Conservative candidate Gerry Ritz is already at work campaigning, putting up signs and seeking voter support.
“I’m going to be out actively asking for their support again. This will be my seventh election in a row and hopefully number seven remains lucky but you’ve got to earn it,” said Ritz. “I haven’t had the opportunity to be around everybody’s kitchen table listening to them, but I’ve certainly been at the cabinet table with their concerns and it has made a difference having a cabinet minister at the table.”
Ritz says this experience makes him a good candidate as well as his political experience serving as the federal agriculture minister. He’s been working across the country and internationally in the latter job and points to the good year Canada has had in agriculture with trade up significantly as a high point. He says the country had captured $60 billion last year, which is a record number of dollars.
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Income for farmers is hitting new highs as well, according to Ritz, and the “debt to asset ratio” is in the best shape it’s ever been in for a number of years as well.
“So we’ve been very successful at managing the agricultural files. Certainly there are people who don’t agree with what we’ve done and how we’ve done it but that’s the nature of politics.”
As for the main policies the Conservatives will be campaigning on he says stewardship of the economy and security rank at the top of the list. After coming through the recession in 2008 he says Canada is doing better than some its G7 counterparts and there has been good job growth and they’d like to continue on with that track record.
“We also want to make sure that people are safe. That we don’t stand a threat of terrorism as we see it happening in the middle-east and of course we’ve seen several incidents right here on our own shore, so I guess those would be the two major files and having said that, I’ll be talking about the dollars that we put into infrastructure across my part of the country here as the regional minister for Saskatchewan,” he said.
When it comes to calling the longest election period in recent memory there are some benefits and drawbacks. Now all of the political parties are playing under election rules, Ritz saying the other parties were busy campaigning anyway and using taxpayers dollars to do that. Now they’re forced to use their party coffers and instead of running everything strictly on the taxpayers’ dime.
On the other hand they will have to be careful with the pace of their campaigns and keep voter interest for a longer period of time.
“You want to make sure that you build to a steady growth as you get to election day, which remains Oct. 19. Having said that, it’s a big country. It gives the leaders much more time to get out coast to coast rather than just skimming over the surface as we do in a five week campaign.
“We’ll actually have time to get into maybe some smaller communities, which is always good.”