With the provincial election coming up, the Green Party candidate for Morden-Winkler is prioritizing local voices for local choices.
Mike Urichuk said one of the pieces of identity he holds most dear to his heart is being a father. He lives in Winkler with his wife and daughter.
A teacher in Winkler, Urichuk said he tries to make his classes hands on and engaging. Urichuk has refereed in Winkler, Morden, Carman and Altona and been involved with Morden Minor Basketball. He ran for the Green Party three years ago.
“A lot of what I do comes from that idea that I want to help those around me grow, I want to help make the world a better place around me,” he said. “Who I am is someone who wants to go and help people and that’s about being open to hearing any of the concerns around yourself so that you can hear people and what they need. You have to be flexible enough to try and make it work so that you can support the people around you to make the community the best it can be.”
Urichuk said he ran because he wanted to ensure that local voices were being heard, and give people as many options as possible come election day.
“That’s one of the things for me, no matter who you’re running for, we need to make sure that that voice is heard,” he said. “We get entrenched in this idea of, ‘My side is right, the other side is wrong.’ Our human psychology actually reinforces this, that the more times we repeat this idea of, ‘I’m right, they’re wrong’ the more entrenched in our thoughts we become and the more division exists within our community.”
Urichuk said Manitobans deserve more of a choice than just left or right.
“They need to be able to have a choice that represents the diversity of the community,” he said. “They deserve the right to choose what really matches up with them. I strongly believe that we can’t just be saying, ‘I support this candidate because they are slightly better than this and they’re the lesser of these two evils…’ That makes people disenchanted with the system. That makes people not want to vote.”
Urichuk said the Green Party believes in local autonomy and supporting local voices in making local decisions.
“Every election there are promises made and promises kept and promises not kept by all of the various political parties that end up forming government,” he said. “So you have to think about what are the foundational concerns of the party, what are my foundational values and how do they line up with these different political parties.”
For Urichuk, top issues going into the election are empowering local voices and dealing with healthcare concerns. While knocking on doors, Urichuk said he has heard from many parents that child care is a huge issue.
“I’ve knocked on so many single parents’ doors and they tell me over and over, ‘We need child care options because I want to go work, I need to go work, but I can’t go work because my kids are at home,’” he said. “That breaks my heart, because these people are working as hard as they can, whether they’re at home with their kids or at their jobs that they’re trying to hold onto, and we don’t have the supports for them to go to work.”
Urichuk said he often talks to voters and finds some common ground with them and some areas where they disagree, but that ultimately people should consider if their government is supporting them to make their own decision.
“What I’m hearing from a lot of the Conservative voters is that they feel a little disappointed with what they’re getting from their government,” he said. “When they feel disappointed some of them say, ‘I’m going to change my vote’ and others will say instead, ‘There’s no option for me.’ Then it becomes a thing of how can I help your voice?”
As a teacher, Urichuk said he has represented teachers on many levels. “There’s some representation work that happens that you just have to live through and experience quite a bit in order to get a lot of these traits, and I’ve gone through that,” he said.
Ultimately, it comes back to local voices for local choices. “It’s a fundamental belief I have,” he said. “If we value representation, we have to make sure we value local decision making, and that means strengthening municipalities to make their own decisions.”
Urichuk is running against incumbent Cameron Friesen from the Progressive Conservative Party, David Mintz from the Liberal Party and Robin Dalloo from the New Democratic Party. The election takes place Sept. 10.