The Faces of the 2014 By-Election
With the by-election approaching here in YMM, now’s the time to become familiar with the people who are vying for your vote. We asked them who they are, why they’re the right person to represent Fort McMurray-Athabasca, and what their three priorities would be if elected. Here’s what they said.
Liberal Party of Canada
I have been a resident of Fort McMurray since 2008 and have been an active member in a community I love and call home. I have spent the past 16 years working for responsible and sustainable development — a just society that respects Aboriginal and minority rights, and accountable, fiscally responsible, transparent government.
I was born in Ajax, Ontario in 1977 and grew up in nearby Oshawa and Scarborough. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia where I graduated in 2000. I spent 7 years on Parliament Hill in Ottawa where I worked as a legislative and executive assistant for several Members of Parliament. I have worked extensively on parliamentary committees including the Environment and Sustainable Development committee and Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics committee.
I have a proven record working for local non-profit organizations including the Cumulative Environmental Management Association in Fort McMurray where I spent 5 years as an Administrator for the Reclamation Working Group which develops guidelines for mine site reclamation in the oil sands. I currently work as General Manager of Fort McMurray Métis Local 1935 where I oversee an organization staff and more than 300 members.
A Member of Parliament is expected to advocate for local interests, address the concerns of residents, and examine how the government spends our money. Our oil sands are the heart of Canada’s resource development industry and underpin hundreds of thousands of jobs, and yet, as Justin Trudeau has stated, the Government have failed to move the yardsticks on one of the most important infrastructure projects in North America — the Keystone XL pipeline; which would ensure our oil sands get to market.
There were over 2,600 Federal funding announcements across Canada in 2013 totalling almost $8.5 billion. Only $11.2 million was announced in Fort McMurray—Athabasca in 2013 despite all the infrastructure issues we’re facing and the billions of dollars being taken out of this region. This lack of attention has led to an infrastructure deficit we all see on the drive to work every day and it is negatively affecting our quality of life in the face of the growth that comes with rapid industrial development.
We must also work to ensure the rights and traditional lands of First Nations and Métis communities are being protected and that starts with ensuring strong environmental oversight and meaningful consultation on industrial projects across the region.
New Democratic Party
Lori McDaniel is a proud Albertan, strong leader, and hard working Suncor employee who knows first hand the importance of developing Alberta’s natural resources in way that helps local communities prosper, not just in the short-term, but for generations to come.
As the health and safety representative for her colleagues, Lori fights everyday for better and safer working conditions. She understands what workers and families in the area are going through.
In 2013, Lori was recognized for her dedication to safe workplaces as a finalist for the President’s Operational Excellence Awards at Suncor. In 2014 she was elected to represent 3000 Suncor workers as the vice-chairperson for her union local.
Like so many in our community, Lori grew up in Atlantic Canada but moved to Fort McMurray for the chance at a consistent, good-paying job. Six years later, she now calls Alberta home and wants to make sure her job is still here in ten or twenty years and believes that can be achieved while still protecting the air we breath and water we drink.
As part of Tom Mulcair’s NDP team, Lori is committed to protecting good-paying jobs and making sure no one is left behind.
- Temporary Foreign Worker program
- Sustainable jobs for the future in this region
- Environmental responsibility
Libertarian Party of Canada
I was raised on a farm in Northern Alberta where I learned about freedom, responsibility and hard work. After university I went on to serve my community as a firefighter, paramedic, businessman, filmmaker, volunteer and most importantly father and husband. Fort McMurray has been my home for over 13 years and prior to that I lived in the town of Athabasca. Whether working as a medic in Athabasca, a firefighter in Fort McMurray, or exposing Neil Young’s hypocrisy after filming with him, my primary life focus has been on serving and protecting my community.
I have no desire to govern people because I understand the fact that only an individual knows what is best for their life. I have grown increasingly intolerant of people in government harming individuals by failing to recognize the fact that they neither have the right nor the competence to govern others. Like a fire mindlessly consuming everything in its path, government has an unquenchable appetite for power and money at the expense of its citizens. I intend to do what I can to continue fighting destructive forces and allowing freeborn people to flourish. I have no political masters other than the people in my riding.
If elected, my three priorities would be:
- Increased Autonomy for the Region Including our First Nations – The federal government needs to immediately relinquish land to this community that can be used for infrastructure like aging in place facilities. Aboriginal people need to have their land respected and be given complete control over what belongs to them.
- More Money for the Region – Money should not be taken from individuals and transferred to other provinces. Federal government spending money on this region shouldn’t be viewed as a gift but rather returning what is ours. The money that is extracted from this region every year could build a lot of nursing homes, hospitals and other infrastructure
- Promoting Business and Markets – I’ll work tirelessly to remove governmental obstacles that prevent our products (whether it’s produced by a farmer, a mom’s home business or an oil sands company) from getting to market. The oil sands are an incredible force for good in this world and while we need to do a better job of respecting the rights of First Nations and other property owners we also need to be able to get our product to market without interference from government.
Conservative Party of Canada
My name is David Yurdiga and I am running for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada. I was born and raised in Grassland, AB. I am educated as a mining (mineral) technologist and worked in the Oil Sands while in school. My family has a beef operation, which I operate. I have also owned several businesses that served many of the communities in, Fort McMurray-Athabasca including Lone Wolf Distributors in Fort McMurray, where I lived for seven years. I have a strong relationship with the Metis and First Nations communities.
I understand all of the issues and challenges affecting each community, as well as the common matters that impact all of us. As former Reeve of Athabasca County, I enjoyed helping my constituents and I want the opportunity to help all of you from the federal level. I believe in our Conservative government’s record of low taxes, responsible fiscal management, being tough on crime and strong on family values. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper our economic record is the best of the developed nations. If you elect me to Ottawa I will work to keep it that way.
If elected, my three priorities would be:
- First if elected, I would take advantage of having a voice in our Conservative Government caucus and promote the unique economic needs of this region. As a driver of the Canadian economy, we have many advantages. No other government in our history has delivered for our region like the Conservatives have under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s strong, stable leadership. I will make sure that support continues and strengthens.
- Second, I would continue my pursuit of cutting needless red tape. Too often in the past our local businesses have been bogged down in red tape, and I will support our Conservative government’s commitment to cutting more of it, to make life more affordable.
- Third, I will take the time to get to know each of you as best I can, so I can truly represent you in Ottawa.
FORT MCMURRAY—ATHABASCA (formerly Athabasca) federal electoral district has been represented in the House of Commons of Canada since 1968. It is a mainly rural riding representing the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the Municipal District of Opportunity No. 17, the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River No. 124, the Municipal District of Big Lakes, Lac La Biche County, Athabasca County and the southeast part of Northern Sunrise County. The seat is currently vacant after the resignation of its most recent MP Brian Jean, a Conservative and a former lawyer, who resigned the seat on January 17, 2014 after a decade in parliament.
Population (2011) 115,372
Electors (2011) 71,621
Area (km²) 176,648.51
Pop. density (per km²) 0.65