The provincial election is not until the fall of 2020, but the race in the Battlefords has already started.
On Wednesday, the contest to become the NDP candidate in the Battlefords officially started as Amber Stewart announced she was running for the party’s nomination.
Stewart is a trained social worker with a degree from the University of Regina, and currently works as executive director of the Battlefords and Area Sexual Assault Centre.
The mother of four kids describes herself as a “hockey mom” who has spent countless hours at the rink during the winter. Stewart has been active on the Battlefords Female Hockey Association board and in the Battlefords Minor Hockey Association, among her various volunteer pursuits.
In speaking to the News-Optimist, Stewart described herself as an ordinary person who simply wants to reflect the concerns of ordinary working people who face the same issues.
“We’re not asking for a lot, we’re asking to be treated fairly,” said Stewart. “And I don’t see anyone fighting for the Battlefords. I see Saskatoon gets funding and programming, Regina, PA. I don’t see any of that happening here. Our food bank isn’t funded, our Lighthouse is underfunded. There’s so much going on and someone needs to be that voice for the average middle-class family in the Battlefords.”
She particularly expressed concerns about poverty and homelessness issues in the community.
“I’m just seeing reactive solutions all the time, instead of a proactive response,” said Stewart.
Her launch event was held at the home of Rob Feist, who was the NDP’s provincial candidate in the Battlefords in 2016. Feist introduced Stewart at the event, and made clear he thought the NDP would be looking to take power in the next election.
Feist said the provincial New Democrats were in “the strongest position we’ve been in in the better part of 15 years.”
For her part, Stewart said she likes the direction of the party under leader Ryan Meili.
“I think Ryan Meili is great and I really love his vision for our province,” said Stewart. She pointed to Meili’s stances on pharmacare as something she supports.
“I personally have friends or family members that struggle because they are insulin-dependant, and that is a very big expense because they don’t have health insurance.”
Stewart also pointed to the overcrowding in classrooms. “Ryan has really been vocal – these cuts to education are just going to affect our kids.”
Stewart also likes the direction of the party in general, pointing to “a lot of female MLAs, which I don’t see with a lot of other parties.”
At this point Stewart is the only declared candidate in the NDP nomination race in the Battlefords. There is still plenty of time for other potential candidates to throw their hats into the ring for the nomination.
The nomination meeting is scheduled for Sept. 7. The venue for that meeting is to be determined.
Stewart intends to spend her time campaigning and convincing potential supporters to buy party memberships so they could participate in that vote.
The seat is currently held by Herb Cox of the Saskatchewan Party. The Saskatchewan Party has not scheduled a nomination meeting in the Battlefords as of yet, and Cox has yet to announce whether he will seek a third term in the legislature.
The provincial election is to be held Oct. 26, 2020.