An Okotoks resident frustrated with lack of representation decided to take matters into her own hands.
Michelle Traxel officially entered the federal election as the NDP candidate in Foothills riding on Aug. 25. She had hesitated at first, waiting to see who was going to jump into the race.
“I was observing everything that was happening and realized nobody was doing it and I just felt I really needed to step up for my community and for the voices I hear constantly and have heard on an ongoing basis,” said Traxel.
She said the NDP platform spoke to her as a parent, small business owner and member of the LGBTQ+ community, all of which she felt were left behind by other parties.
“There were just so many aspects of the Liberal platform and the Conservative platform that I didn’t fit in,” said Traxel. “I felt like I was picking the lesser of two evils, having to compromise a lot of my own identity to fall in line with the party ideology on either side of the fence.”
The beliefs of the NDP resonated with her and she decided it was time to step up and lead that charge in her own community.
She said the party brings forth a solid and realistic economic recovery plan, which she appreciated as a small business owner at Little Fast + Fresh.
“The thought of our entire economy’s revival being dependent on coupons was really off-putting for me,” said Traxel.
The NDP have looked critically at the economic situation and developed a plan that includes taxing those who have skirted the system and removed wealth from Canada, she said.
“It’s really time for them to pay up, and I think that is the logical solution to this bizarre economic moment that was really outside of all of our control,” said Traxel. “I like the straight-forward, direct approach to it, where Canadians are what’s being thought of and not the semantics of how that looks amongst the wealthy elite in Canada.”
In addition to economic crisis, she said the current environmental situation faced by many Foothills farmers needs to be addressed.
For many, 2021 brought drought and unsuccessful crops, and those who did manage to keep their crops struggled to find labour because the number of temporary workers was reduced with COVID, she said.
“It’s really this perfect storm, and I’m really frustrated with the rhetoric and the back-and-forth,” said Traxel. “I want someone to step into this position and advocate for the people who have been impacted by things that are so outside of their control.”
That includes getting funding for farmers and encouraging more jobs, finding ways to be innovative and forward-thinking while still maintaining the culture of the Foothills riding and its agricultural history, she said.
It’s possible to be both progressive and mindful of tradition, she said.
“I think we can have both, and I think we just need a voice that can mitigate between these big entities who really don’t get what we’re about and the average Foothills citizen, and I think I can do a really good job of that,” said Traxel.
It comes down to delivering meaningful service to the citizens of the riding, she said, and advocating for what is best for everybody in the riding and works for as many people as possible.
“I think that’s really gotten lost in the Conservative voice,” said Traxel.
She said recent votes on issues like conversion therapy have gone in directions that make her uncomfortable.
“I just don’t feel the majority in the Foothills is being represented in those choices,” said Traxel. “The advocacy for us has really been forgotten, and I think because of my history I will always put the people first, I will always advocate to provide the best service for this community.”
Though the campaign period is short, Traxel said she hopes to visit as many people and events as possible in the coming weeks and spread her message of more inclusive representation and forward momentum.
It’s going to be a grind leading up to election day, but she intends to use every possible minute to engage with citizens across the Foothills riding.
“I didn’t want to go into this halfway,” said Traxel. “I felt that if I was going to put myself on the ticket I was going to give it my all and be authentically me through the whole journey of it.
“I am a person who – I’m 110 per cent in, and I’m going to approach the campaign the exact same way, and I hope people can read that and feel that.”