THUNDER BAY – The NDP have a pair of candidates looking to take back a Northern Ontario seat they’d held for eight years before losing it to the Liberals in the 2015 federal election.
Jason Storkson, president of the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service police association, and labour activist Yuk-Sem Won on Friday confirmed they’re in the running to represent the party in Thunder Bay-Rainy River, a seat soon-to-be-vacated by Liberal Don Rusnak, who has decided not to seek a second term in the House of Commons.
Neither candidate has held public office before, but both said they can bring the necessary changed needed in a riding as diverse and unique as Thunder Bay-Rainy River.
“I’ve always been an active member in this community and I’ve been able to participate and be a strong voice for the groups that I’ve worked with,” said Won, who in addition to her roles at both Lakehead University and Confederation College, is a well-known local visual artist.
“I wanted to bring that representation to the people of Northwestern Ontario through Thunder Bay-Rainy River.”
Storkson, born and raised in Thunder Bay, said he’s a problem-solver with a strong character who thinks his voice can be a meaningful one in the world of politics.
“I’m just tired of arm-chair politicking with my friends over coffee and I think it’s time to change and put myself out there and try to change things for the better for our community and the surrounding area.”
Both candidates see a huge opportunity, with Rusnak deciding to leave politics behind to focus on his young family.
“I think it is a strong NDP riding,” Storkson said. “I think what happened in the last election cycle was just an angry electorate trying to get rid of the (Conservatives) and I think everybody just jumped on the Liberal bandwagon to make sure that happened, instead of splitting the vote.
“And I think they’ll come back now to the NDP.”
The Liberals have opened the door, Won said.
“There are definitely some issues that the Liberals are facing and I think the concerns of the people of Northwestern Ontario are with the government in general that we’re seeing all over the place. It’s (important) to find a representative that has those same values and will be able to bring that to the forefront, without the conflict and the divisiveness.”
The party has yet to set a date for the nomination meeting, though it’s expected to happen in late May.
The Conservatives have nominated former Thunder Bay city councillor Linda Rydholm to run, while current Coun. Shelby Ch’ng is the lone candidate to publicly put her name forward to seek to replace Rusnak on the Liberal ticket. The Green Party has yet to nominate a candidate.