THUNDER BAY - The New Democratic Party will be looking to return the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding back to the party in the upcoming federal election and party members feel the candidate to do so must be a voice for the people of Northern Ontario.
Yuk-Sem Won was voted as the party candidate following nomination meetings held in Atikokan and Fort Frances on Saturday and Thunder Bay on Sunday.
Won was chosen over Jason Storkson, an 11-year member of the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service and the only other candidate to put his name forward for the nomination.
“She has a lot of wonderful skills, a lot of experience, she is well known in the community,” said Judith Mongrain, president of the Thunder Bay-Rainy River NDP Riding Association. “Both candidates were awesome in those respects. The membership chose Yuk-Sem Won and I am just thrilled.”
Born and raised in Hearst, Won graduated from Lakehead University and has worked as a teacher in the public school system and is currently a faculty member at Confederation College in the Human Resources Program.
Won served as Local president and regional grievance officer within the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and she describes herself as a labour activist.
Going into the upcoming federal election next fall, Won said she will advocate on behalf of Northern Ontario by listening to the people and what they need.
“I think having politics that focus solely on divisive issues is a problem,” she said. “We’re all Canadians and we really need to take care of our communities, our people, and our resources. It’s one of the things the NDP values really supports.”
As a labour activist, Won said she often served as a voice for those who feel like they don’t have a say and she said she will continue to do that on behalf of the people of Northern Ontario.
“I think being present and active and going and talking to the people and ensuring that it is not a one size fits all, that our needs and our voices are heard for things like access to health care and education, being sure that our resources are taken care of, it’s something Northwestern Ontario really deserves,” she said.
“One of the things with the NDP is they really do represent who the people are in Northwestern Ontario,” Won continued. “That is something I’ve always been able to stand with and I am proud to be able to represent now.”
The NDP held the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding under John Rafferty from 2008 until 2015 when Don Rusnak of the Liberal Party won the seat.
“The members certainly had a lot more service when the NDP had the MP position,” Mongrain said. “They have been very disappointed and feel that they have been neglected under the current MP and they are very pleased to hear the NDP has candidates running that they can support.”
Won said running as an NDP candidate felt like the right fit because she calls it a party that has values and policies that supports people.
“I think by showing that we really are a party that supports the people, to have a representative that is active and present and out there talking with the people, to see what the issues are,” she said. “As well as being a representative who brings those issues back to Ottawa.”
“People want to talk to the person they are going to vote for,” Mongrain added. “They want to be able to go to their member of parliament and get the help they need. They want to see the person and they want the help. I think she will do a tremendous job.”
Former Thunder Bay city councilor, Linda Rydholm, will be running for the Conservative Party, while city councilor Shelby Ch’ng and physician Marcus Powlowski have announced intentions to seek the Liberal Party nomination after Don Rusnak said he would not be seeking reelection.