Sudbury

Professional artist Stef Paquette is running for election in Nickel Belt under the NDP banner

After voting Liberal in 2015 and feeling betrayed by Trudeau's time in government, Stef Paquette decided someone needed to make a change. He's running for election in Nickel Belt as the NDP candidate. 

The Nickel Belt riding is over 30,000 square kilometres

Stef Paquette is the NDP candidate for Nickel Belt. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

After voting Liberal in 2015 and feeling betrayed by Trudeau's time in government, Stef Paquette decided someone needed to make a change. He's running for election in Nickel Belt as the NDP candidate. 

"I'm tired of the status quo," he said, "I'm tired of the lies, I'm tired of the empty promises."

Paquette is a professional artist. He has gained some notoriety as a French language musician, held acting roles in television and film, and was a host for a local radio station.

When asked about his experience, he focused on the need for diversity of thought in parliament.

"There's 338 seats. They can't be all lawyers, and they can't be all political science majors," he said. "It's got to be a mix of different people, from different backgrounds that see things differently."

The issues

Like many politicians in northern Ontario, Paquette is quick to bring up the disparity between urban and rural populations as a major campaign issue.

One of the ways the disparity manifests itself, said Paquette, is in the lack of cellphone connectivity in places all over Nickel Belt. He noted that, if your car breaks down on some major roads in the riding, there may be a road sign for a tow truck to call but no cellphone service with which to call it. 

"It's a safety issue," he said. 

The size of the Nickel Belt riding is also an issue for Paquette.

Without economic opportunity, population levels will decrease which means the riding size will have to grow geographically to incorporate more people, he said. 

"If we don't make it possible for kids going to college and university to come back, then the population will just diminish and the riding will just get bigger and bigger."

There are 47 communities in Nickel Belt today according to Paquette, and he has made a campaign promise to set foot in each at least once. He said you can't represent the interest of a community unless you've seen it. 

"Every community should have the same amount of time with their MP," he said, "The same amount of investment."

Disappointment with Trudeau

Paquette says he won't hide the fact that he voted for Trudeau in the last election, despite his current party affiliations. 

He wants to focus on the fact that he along with many other Canadians, he thinks, were fooled. He also says that the NDP most closely aligns with his personal political beliefs. 

"It's tough not to be angry," he said, "Whether it's from the SNC Lavalin scandal, whether it's the empty lies."

"The question people have to ask themselves is 'who has your back?'"

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