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Profile: Mantis fighting for the people

Steve Mantis is fighting for the people left behind. “Seems like the big guys, they have plenty of people fighting for them,” said the NDP candidate for Thunder Bay-Superior North.
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Steve Mantis is fighting for the people left behind.

“Seems like the big guys, they have plenty of people fighting for them,” said the NDP candidate for Thunder Bay-Superior North. “They hire their lobbyists and they’re on the hill all the time or in Queen’s Park lobbying the government people … trying to get their way.”

Mantis isn’t interested in that.

“I’m interested in helping real people, the families here in our region and I don’t give up,” he said.

Mantis helped form the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group and co-founded the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Support Groups. Through this experience he has learned how to build links between community groups, government officials and bureaucracies to address pressing issues.

It’s that experience he believes makes him the best candidate to represent the riding in the Oct. 6 provincial election.

“I think that’s what we need more and more of,” he said. “We need to really work together to address the issues…I’ve got a track record of success in that area and I think it would serve our local residents here well.”

Originally from Pennsylvania, Mantis moved to the Thunder Bay area in 1968. He built his house in Kaministiquia and has lived there ever since. He has five children, seven grandchildren and two more on the way.

Four of his children reside in Thunder Bay with good jobs – something Mantis would like to see for more people in the riding.

Travelling throughout the region, he hears about the need not just for jobs, but secure jobs with benefits. After so many jobs lost in the forestry industry, he says the area is in a big transition.

“The new jobs that have come around health care and the knowledge economy, some of our folks have been able to fit in, but also we’ve had new residents coming to the city to take some of those jobs,” said Mantis.

“The transition for people who have worked in the forestry industry, whether it was in the bush or in the mills, hasn’t really been successful for a lot of those families.”

“We need to have a diversified economy that provides opportunities in a range of ways,” he added. “That seems to be a key issue for folks throughout our region.”

In the last 15 years, the provincial governments have prioritized breaks to large corporations and has taken Ontario in a direction that has left many people behind, said Mantis. While the corporations have received tax breaks, the rest of Ontario has been picking up the slack.

“What that’s left is a lack of funds to fund our public services, whether that’s education, health care, roads and bridges, programs that help people in need,” he said.

“All of those are struggling now to make ends meet and I’m thinking that’s an important issue we need to address and that’s’ one of the main reasons I’m running in this election.”