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Powlowski hopes to keep TB-Rainy River in Liberal fold

Emergency room doctor says Bombardier, jobs throughout the region among his top priorities if he's elected on Oct. 21.
Marcus Powlowski
Marcus Powlowski is an emergency-room doctor who says he was a polticial idealist in his younger days and the passion has never really left. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – Marcus Powlowski has been a lot of things in his life.

In his younger days, he was a political activist, fighting for what he believed would make the world a better place for everyone.

Educated at Harvard and Georgetown universities, Powlowski has a law degree and has spent the last 34 years as an acute care physician, dealing with both the best and worst society has to offer.

Now he’s got his eye on Ottawa.

He took his first step toward that goal earlier this year, surprising many by capturing the Liberal nomination in Thunder Bay-Rainy River, looking to hold onto a seat taken from the NDP in 2015 by fellow Liberal Don Rusnak, who decided to step aside after one term in the House of Commons.

“As a doctor, at times you feel a little bit inadequate,” he said of his decision to put a temporary halt to his medical career in order to serve the people of Northwestern Ontario.

“You’re not really dealing with the underlying problems that cause people’s illness. The real problems are often societal and can only be dealt with on a societal level. Who has the power to change things in society? Who makes the rules in society? To some extent it’s the courts and the legislatures, so the lawyers and the politicians.”

It’s for that reason he decided to hopefully add Member of Parliament to his extensive resume.

“I guess if I didn’t have five kids, it would be a little easier to ignore politics. But elections matter and there are potentially a lot of implications of this election on all of us. I think it’s important that you have good people running,” he said.

“Really, for the sake of my kids, but for the sake of many good people I’ve met during this campaign, that you want someone with the degree of education and the depth of life experience to really do a good job representing their interests.”

While there are a lot of issues requiring a broad depth of knowledge to solve in Northwestern Ontario, Powlowski said his top one has to be preserving a long-term future for Thunder Bay’s Bombardier plant.

The company’s employees are facing up to 550 layoffs once rail-car contracts are filled and he thinks Ottawa can help.

“I know the money is there from the federal government to build more rail cars. You know they’re going to want more rail cars in southern Ontario, whether it’s the TTC, MetroLinx, Go Transit. It’s a matter of the provincial government getting in the proposals,” Powlowski said, adding his priority would be to help hurry up the process from the federal level.

Another top issue he’d like to tackle is ending violence and substance abuse in the region, something he sees on a regular basis at the hospital, a problem that has plagued communities throughout Northwestern Ontario for years.

“There’s no quick fix to this problem, but I think it’s really something the three levels of government have to work together to try to solve. It’s affecting a lot of people in this community.”

Other issues he’s looking at include climate change, improving the lives of seniors and Indigenous peoples and employment, not only in Thunder Bay, but communities like Atikokan and Fort Frances, where mill closures have hurt. has profiled all 11 candidates running in Thunder Bay-Rainy River and Thunder Bay-Superior North and will be rolling them out over the course of the next two days. They can be found in our news section, as well as our special Federal Election page, Canada Votes. 

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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