Federal candidates in Winnipeg gear up for pandemic election
Marty Morantz has new walking shoes in preparation for knocking on thousands of doors as the federal election begins.
Morantz, who defeated incumbent Liberal Doug Eyolfson in 2019 to become MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, criticized Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for calling an election less than two years after the last one and during a global pandemic.
"This is a really unnecessary and unwarranted election that really nobody wants," he said.
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Eyolfson, who is running again in hopes of getting his seat back, believes an election can be conducted safely.
"So far, three provinces have had elections during this pandemic," he said.
Both candidates said they will follow public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they are out on the campaign trail, wearing masks and physically distancing.
The New Democratic Party hasn't nominated a candidate in Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley yet, but in Winnipeg North, the NDP are setting up the campaign office for Melissa Chung-Mowat.
She's hoping to take the seat from incumbent Kevin Lamoureux, a Liberal who has represented the riding since 2010.
Chung-Mowat has lived in the Point Douglas neighbourhood for nine years and has already been out campaigning.
"We've been knocking doors for the last six weeks, so we've already knocked on 4,000 doors," she said.
The NDP has strict protocols to ensure safety, she said.
The federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic looms large among the issues likely to dominate this election.
Conservative Morantz said he supports employers who decide to implement mandatory testing for employees.
Although he encourages everyone to get vaccinated, he believes courts will ultimately have to settle the question of whether vaccines can be mandated, something the federal government has done for all federal employees, travellers and federally regulated industries.
"When it comes to people's personal health choices, I think in a country like Canada, where we've got a charter of rights and we respect people's human rights, we have to leave those choices to them personally," he said.
Liberal Eyolfson and New Democrat Chung-Mowat support mandatory vaccines.
"What we need is a plan by Labour Day. Kids are going back to school. Kids are still not vaccinated," Chung-Mowat said.
Eyolfson said mandating vaccines the way the government has is a reasonable measure to ensure people's safety.
"In workplaces, in aircraft, they have a responsibility to protect not only themselves but to protect others," Eyolfson said.
The federal election is set for Sept. 20.