THUNDER BAY – Don Rusnak will seek a second term for the Liberals in Thunder Bay-Rainy River.
The first-term MP on Thursday night was acclaimed to run for the party in the Northern Ontario riding, the first candidate to officially have his name on the ballot.
Rusnak, who stepped down from a parliamentary secretary role for family reasons, said he thought long and hard about whether to run again, but in the end said he wanted to continue helping the government steer the country in the right direction after a decade of Conservative rule under former prime minister Stephen Harper.
“Why I ran was the direction this country was going,” Rusnak said on Thursday night, moments after accepting the nomination.
“I believe that we were on that path to putting the country back on the right path. It’s been a long slog for the last three years, but more of that work needs to be done.”
Rusnak said at the top of his hit list is improving things for seniors and the region’s Indigenous population.
“We need to do more in terms in terms of pharmaceuticals. We need to do better in terms of health care. Those are all things that are vigorous discussions within caucus,” Rusnak said. “I’ve learned a lot in my three years on how things work in Ottawa and I look forward to bringing the voices of Thunder Bay-Rainy River to that discussion.”
Rusnak said while his nomination essentially means the start of the campaign, nearly a year ahead of the 2019 federal election, it’s really always on.
“You have to work hard for your constituents and you really have to figure out how best to do the job in Ottawa and how best to do the job in the riding,” he said. “I have a very unique riding, in that I’m along the Minnesota border. I have a large population to the west and Atikokan in the middle, and serving that constituency appropriately with the geographic distances that we have is very different than serving areas in southern Ontario.
“I can assure you everyone in caucus knows who I am, from me forming the Indigenous caucus at the start and my work at the start as the parliamentary secretary to Minister (of Indigenous Services Jane) Philpott. I’m a strong voice for Northwestern Ontario and Thunder Bay-Rainy River.”
None of the other major parties has yet to announced a nominee in the riding for the election, which is scheduled for Oct. 21, 2019.