This is an opportunity for ordinary people to be heard.
We asked six people to be our citizen commentators during the campaign. Each chose an issue they believe in passionately. You'll hear from them between now and the week of the election, and we encourage you to react by adding your comments.
Neil is a freelance journalist with extensive experience in television and radio, as well as writing for government.
September 13, 2011
I'm assuming you are reading this because you are interested in what I have to say about the economy and employment in Manitoba as issues in the provincial election. In the interest of disclosure I'll tell you I'm no expert on the economy, although I have done many stories about economic issues. Nevertheless, like you, I have plenty of experience with staying employed during my career.
Like many people in other industries, I've seen my pay go up as I gained increased job responsibility and had it come down either due to inflation or reduced hours. I've dealt with budget cuts, been locked out because of a labour dispute and punted because of changes that didn't include me.
I've collected employment insurance, taken government-sponsored courses to broaden my resume and spoken to a variety of counsellors hoping to convince me that anyone should be glad to have me as an employee.
I've been to numerous job interviews of all shapes and sizes and been hired many times based on my skills, depth of experience and personal merit. I've also had my applications for jobs go into some dark hole where the answer to what happened has never emerged.
On the political front I have voted in every civic, provincial and federal election since moving to Manitoba. I am not a party member but within the past year I volunteered for both the provincial and federal Liberals. You can tell by this I really know how to pick a winner. I am not currently involved in this election campaign. Like you, I will make my choice by voting.
Speaking of which, I have seen our democratic process from the inside in a non-partisan way. I've worked elections in differing capacities including registering people to vote in the last federal election. This summer I was employed by Elections Manitoba, going door to door getting people signed up to vote. I can tell you summer is not the best time to find anyone home on weekends or during a Bombers home game.
So what am I looking for from the provincial parties this election? I want a fully-budgeted presentation of promises that outlines what will be done to improve Manitoba's economy and not a baffling barrage of negative attack advertising.
I want to know what's the backup plan should the economies of Europe and the U.S. head towards further recession? This province depends a great deal on exports but if our customers are facing tough times, what then?
I want acknowledgement that older workers, like the people I met while looking for work, are finding themselves being edged out as companies look to cut their costs. Is there sufficient money to see that they get retraining and other career transition assistance? I want to know that younger people are being directed towards occupations that are needed and sustainable.
It's not enough to point to a Manitoba advantage based on lower costs of housing, auto insurance and Hydro to say we can keep younger workers. This province has a tremendous resource in its rapidly-growing aboriginal population. How are we working towards incorporating them into the economy?
This province has managed to weather some of the worst of the economic downturn but we may not be so fortunate in months to come. These are general questions and concerns. I'll be writing more about specifics as this election rolls along towards the final vote.