Angela Enright aspires to be an agent of change for the Flin Flon constituency.
And the newly minted Progressive Conservative MLA candidate believes change is in the air heading into April’s provincial election.
“I think the people that you speak to on the street are the ones that are indicating already that they want something different,” said Enright.
Enright, a Snow Lake resident with Flin Flon roots, hopes to tap into that sentiment after securing Flin Flon’s PC nomination.
She defeated Matthew Werry, a Flin Flon resident, at a nomination meeting held Tuesday evening at the Victoria Inn. Joining party members in attendance were three incumbent PC MLAs from southern Manitoba.
A consultant and former economic development officer, Enright stressed the “huge need” for more seniors’ housing in the constituency.
She said many seniors, particularly in the community of Flin Flon, remain in their long-time homes and face challenges caring for themselves, let alone a property.
“There’s no other option for them around,” Enright said. “There’s a long waiting list for existing accommodation and they have no choice other than to leave their friends and family behind as they move off to another location to access suitable housing. It’s a shame.”
She cited a further need for more housing on First Nations communities, where overcrowding is a concern.
Switching gears, Enright touched on obstacles facing Manitoba’s all-important mining industry, including declining exploration and the growth of government-protected areas.
She said the current provincial approval process for new mines takes two to four years and that the consultation framework involving First Nations is “flawed.”
“In Manitoba, stalled projects are the greatest detriment to exploration today,” Enright said. “It is poor business and a disincentive – a disincentive – to expect a company to risk their capital for an unknown length of time.”
She took aim at other NDP government policies, including the 2012 decision to end a subsidy that enabled broad Greyhound bus service in northern Manitoba.
“Sadly…the $3-million annual subsidy saving appeared to be a greater incentive to the current government than was the convenience and appreciation of northerners in keeping the scheduled bus service,” Enright said. “I don’t think that was a fair trade-off.”
Taxes are another priority for Enright. She shared the account of a close friend’s family member who worked for a contractor along the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border – taking home an extra $500 a week when the work was in Saskatchewan simply because of taxation differences.
“And then we wonder why people and businesses are leaving our province,” she said.
Enright detailed “slipping education standards” that fail to ensure student success, and the “revolving door of doctors” that demands a different recruitment strategy.
She said northern Manitoba is home to the province’s “biggest tourism secret,” adding that jobs could be created with more targeted funding for tourism.
“We need a government which recognizes the economic benefits derived from tourism,” said Enright.
A former Snow Lake town councillor, Enright was general manager of the Norman Regional Development Corp. until, she says, the province revoked funding and the economic-development agency closed a couple of years ago.
She said her work has helped create opportunities for economic growth – “and that is the basis for improving the quality of life.”
Unfortunately, Enright said, “financial mismanagement” is jeopardizing Manitoba’s credit rating.
“We need to restore order to our financial house through good judgment and planning,” she said.
Outside of work, Enright has been involved with volunteer efforts around health and housing.
She was also part of advocacy efforts that preserved northern Manitoba’s CBC Radio programming after the network announced in 2009 it would close its Thompson studio.
Having lived and worked across northern Manitoba, Enright said she has reached a point where she can do a “tremendously good job for everybody.”
“I’m not afraid to work hard myself and I will commit the hours it takes to be a good representative for you,” she added.
Enright shared her fondness for the northern region and its people, adding, “There’s an openness and a sincerity associated with individuals who live north of 53.”
Manitobans head to the polls on Tuesday, April 19. A January survey conducted by Mainstreet Research for Postmedia suggested the PCs have the support of 52 per cent of Manitoba voters compared to 20 per cent for both the Liberals and the governing NDP.
The Reminder will continue to follow the election and speak with the candidates ahead of both the Manitoba election and the Saskatchewan election, which will take place Monday, April 4.