Clarke hosts town hall meetings


Eoin Devereux
The Neepawa Banner

A wide range of topics are on the table during a series of town hall meetings being hosted by Agassiz MLA Eileen Clarke. Two of the four scheduled gatherings were held on Monday, Sept. 25; the first in Gladstone at 10:00 a.m., followed by a meeting in Carberry at 7:00 p.m.
Attendees were encouraged to have their say on three key issues including, balancing the budget, sustaining health care and the integration of marijuana regulations within the province.

An online survey on these points is also available at, for anyone unable to attend. While these three main topics were the scheduled discussion points, the meetings were also open to any other issues people wanted to explore related to the province.

Debt and health care
For the Gladstone session, the reduction of the province’s debt, along with the future of health care, took centre stage. Clarke stated that for the debt, some difficult choices have been made to chip away at the deficit. She noted the Pallister government knew these decisions would cause some backlash in the short term, but will be worth it in the long term. Clarke stated she supports this current course of action, as balancing the budget and reducing the deficit will draw new businesses opportunities to the province.

As for health care, Clarke said changes to the distribution of services are necessary to reel in wasteful spending from the previous government. She also indicated that federal transfers for health care have dropped an average of $34 per person since 2009, creating additional problems. Clarke stressed that these actions have forced the current government to make some tough choices on how they spend tax dollars to cover as many places as possible.

Other questions raised included the future of Manitoba Hydro, the province’s views on carbon pricing and the potential sale of hundreds of government owned properties across Manitoba.

Clarke indicated that for the carbon pricing, the province will be bringing forward an alternative plan to Ottawa’s proposed course of action in the near future. She said the federal government’s current proposal is too hard on the province, which not a major emitter, accounting for just 2.9 per cent of national emissions.

Real Voice
After the completion of the Gladstone meeting, Clarke noted that these town halls are giving Manitobans a real voice in the choices their government makes on their behalf.

“This is important, because it’s allowing our residents to have a say, to listen to the facts and direct questions. To me, this is very significant. That’s why I’m doing four separate meetings in different areas within the constituency. As an MLA, I’m mandated to do one, but I feel as though the significance of these topics is important and that’s why I’ve chosen to do four. To ensure people have better access to me and the information these meetings are providing,” stated Clarke.

Additional meetings are scheduled for Monday, Oct. 16. The morning session is set for the MacGregor Drop In Centre at 10:00 a.m., while the evening meeting will take place at the Riding Mountain Community Centre at 7:00 p.m.