People's Party of Canada candidate for Nickel Belt Mikko Paavola ready for a difficult race

Though it may be an uphill climb, Mikko Paavola of the People's Party of Canada is hoping to bring change to the Nickel Belt riding.

Paavola says decided to run after speaking with a friend who is a candidate in Calgary

Mikko Paavola grew up in Lively, Ont. (Mikko Paavola)

Though it may be an uphill climb, Mikko Paavola of the People's Party of Canada is hoping to bring change to the Nickel Belt riding.

Since 2004 the NDP, Liberal and Conservative parties have dominated elections in the riding. Combined, they've taken over 90 per cent of the vote each year. 

"My chances are zero if I don't have my name on the ballot," Paavola said. "It's going to be a tough fight, I can see just from history. But, history can change when people are willing to make a change."

Paavola says his parents moved to Greater Sudbury before he was born. He grew up in Lively and eventually attended Nipissing University in North Bay.

Currently, he is working and living in Alberta where he has a home. He says the nature of the electrical work that he does takes him out on contracts for extended periods of time. 

After a conversation with a friend in Calgary, Paavola decided to look into the People's Party and opportunities to run for office.

"I realized that there was a possibility of me going to Nickel Belt," he said. "And I'm thinking 'that's where I grew up, how great would that be if I could actually represent the people that I grew up with?'"

Party misconceptions

The People's Party of Canada has come under fire recently for billboards featuring party leader Maxime Bernier and what some call an anti-immigration slogan.

The billboards read "Say NO to mass immigration."

Paavola rejects that characterization that the party is racist.

"I don't think that's on the platform," he said. "It's strictly talking about numbers and the type of people. Whether they're electricians, boilermakers, doctors, dentists, so I don't see how anybody can say that's racist."

For Paavola, this is more a matter of resources than anything.

He went on to say that the party would like to keep immigration numbers at between 100,000 and 150,000 individuals per year. The reason for that being that the country can only afford to support so many people that need help assimilating to Canadian culture. 

Key issues

Paavola was recently in the Sudbury area, he says that he was talking to potential voters are heard them bring up two issues consistently: government spending and immigration policy.

He says that voters in Nickel Belt are upset with how the Liberal government and Justin Trudeau specifically are providing large corporations with tax-breaks and federal money. He cited a specific instance where Loblaws was given $12 million to retrofit their freezers. 

Maxime Bernier would never have allowed this, Paavola said, adding Bernier would force companies that make bad choices to live with those choices. 

When it comes to immigration, Paavola said that the people he spoke with have a few concerns. 

"It's a combination between the UN and not having our borders secured," he said.

"They're following the reports coming out of Quebec where there's lots of illegal immigrants coming to Canada. So they said we need to be more secure and vet people when they come in to make sure that they're on board with living the way most of us are living here in Canada."

On the economy, Paavola said that his experience working on wind turbines has him thinking about manufacturing opportunities in Nickel Belt. 

He said that we could be building parts to the turbines, as opposed to sourcing them from overseas.