NDP candidate Harmony Johnson-Harder grew up watching people around her work as hard as they could to get ahead.
Unfortunately, she said, those efforts weren’t always rewarded.
She hasn’t forgot that experience. In fact, it inspired her to enter the world of politics.
“There are a lot of people out there now who work really hard, who are marginalized, and just can’t seem to get a break,” said Johnson-Harder, who was officially named the NDP candidate for the riding of Prince Albert on Saturday. “The NDP values of social programs and supporting people are the primary reasons why I’m running.”
Johnson-Harder grew up in a single-parent family and moved frequently in her youth. She lived in St. Louis, Prince Albert and Saskatoon growing up, and then attended the University of Saskatchewan to study political science.
She takes pride in her background, and her Métis and Cree heritage, which she said helps her stay grounded.
“I come from humble roots,” she said. “Nothing was ever given to me. I’ve worked really hard for everything. I think that’s what I bring to the table.”
After university, Johnson-Harder worked in a number of community leadership roles, including time as a home visitor with family support organization Kids First North, and several years with the Kikinahk Friendship Centre in La Ronge. Currently, she works as a program manager for the Northern Sport, Culture and Recreation District.
She said those experiences have shown her there’s still a need for strong social programs that support families. It’s also convinced her of the need for a pharmacare plan, like the one the NDP has vowed to implement by 2020 if elected.
According to that plan, the NDP would create a group of experts to establish a list of prescription drugs covered by the government. Approved drugs would have to meet government standards in several areas, like safety and cost effectiveness. The NDP claims their pharmacare plan will save patients an average of $550 a year.
The party has also promised to expand medicare to include services like dentistry, eye care and mental health care.
“The NDP have always been for the people,” Johnson-Harder said. “All the policies are for everybody. It brings a sense of equality and balance.”
Outside of family support programs, Johnson-Harder’s biggest passion is for the environment. She recalls writing to former Prince Albert NDP MP Stan Hovdebo about the issue as a youth, and receiving a hand-written response in return that helped inspire her to continue studying the issue.
She said previous Canadian governments haven’t treated climate change as a serious threat, and she promised that an NDP government wouldn’t hesitate to enact the necessary legislation.
“We can’t hesitate anymore,” Johnson-Harder said. “It’s not a political debate. Action is where we need to go.”
The NDP platform includes a plan for a new Canadian Climate Bank to boost investment in Canadian energy efficient low-carbon technology. The party says it will power Canada with net carbon-free electricity by 2030, and 100 per cent non-emitting electricity by 2050. The party has also vowed to remove all federal fossil fuel subsidies, and promised to overhaul the review process for major federal infrastructure projects to make sure they meet the necessary emission reduction targets while also respecting Indigenous rights and creating jobs in Canada.
Johnson-Harder is the sixth and final candidate to officially enter the race in Prince Albert. She’s running against incumbent MP Randy Hoback (Conservative) and challengers Kelly Day (PPC), Miranda Friske (Green Party), Estelle Hjertaas (Liberal) and Brian Littlepine (Veterans Coalition Party of Canada).
Election Day is Oct. 21.