Westman MP Dan Mazier said the cost of living — everything from gasoline to groceries — was the biggest concern he heard from constituents at a barbecue on Aug 2.
The event, hosted at the Dauphin–Swan River–Neepawa Conservative MP’s office in Neepawa, located 76 kilometres northeast of Brandon, was an opportunity for Mazier to meet his constituents face-to-face and hear their concerns.
Mazier, the former president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, was elected to represent the riding in the 2019 federal election. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions over the past two years, he said, he hasn’t had many opportunities to meet his constituents in person.
Terry Baker, who lives in Newdale, located 77 kilometres northwest of Brandon, said he attended the barbecue because he wants to be a voice for change for people in Mazier’s riding.
“I would like to have politicians actually work for the people instead of the party, and give our rights, and our freedoms and our choices back to us. That we’re not dictated to by Ottawa. We live different here than they do in Ottawa,” Baker said.
Baker said he thinks Mazier is doing a good job, but would like to see him do more.
“I think his hands are kind of tied as to what he can do as well,” Baker said. “We just need to change the system so Dan can actually work for the people … what we really need to get the governments to remember is they work for the people, we don’t work for them. And they kind of flipped that around. We’ve got to get that back.”
Mazier said the issue of affordability is on the minds of many of his constituents.
“Inflation’s got people pretty rattled,” he said.
While the price of gas is declining, the cost of groceries is still reflecting high inflation, Mazier said.
“I’m hearing more comments about groceries. When we have fresh produce here, it’s still high. The price of groceries is pretty unobtainable for many.”
Mazier said he worries most about young people and seniors, as they seem to be the two populations that are being hit hardest by the sharp rise in prices. He said he’ll be focusing on bringing these issues to the attention of the federal government in hopes that they will take some of the suggestions the Conservative party has made.
“We’ve given several recommendations on how to reduce cost of living — take the GST off of gas prices, and take the carbon tax off,” Mazier said. “The GST is five per cent of whatever the price is. Five per cent of $1 versus five per cent of $2. The government … sees that cash cow coming in every day, why would they take it off?”
When it comes to the carbon tax, Mazier said it’s making things more expensive for Canadians all around.
Another issue that people are bringing to Mazier’s attention is access to government services, which is why, in addition to the local barbecues he held, he also hosted pop-up passport services in Neepawa, Dauphin and Swan River for anyone looking to get their passports renewed.
“When you look at this riding and the need for it, there’s only one Service Canada outlet in the whole entire riding that’s actually open, and that’s in Dauphin. Even then, it was closed for over two years … that’s a problem. That’s a big problem for a riding this size.”
Mazier said offering public services like passport renewal pop-ups fills a gap that should, in actuality, be the responsibility of the federal government.
“We’re an MP’s office, we should be focusing on policies, bureaucracy and how programs are impacting people. That’s normally what we should be dealing with; not putting on a service that Service Canada should be doing.”
Jennifer Wiebe, office administrator with the Neepawa Chamber of Commerce, was at the barbecue and said it was nice to see so many people take advantage of the opportunity to bring their concerns to Mazier’s attention.
“It’s a great opportunity for the people in Neepawa to meet Dan, to meet each other, to enjoy the day, to have a chance to talk to one another and bring their concerns.”
Wiebe said she’s happy that Mazier has an office in Neepawa, as it’s important for the community to be able to be in contact with him.
“It’s kind of nice to have that access to him in Neepawa itself, especially since we’re growing.”
Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun