NDP candidate MacDougall ready for tough fight

Ken MacDougall acknowledges he’s in for a tough fight trying to unseat incumbent Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback on Sept. 20, but he’s definitely eager to try.

The NDP unveiled MacDougall as their Prince Albert candidate on Monday, as they try to unseat the Conservatives and win the constituency for the first time since the 1980s. As a teacher and educational consultant who has lived in every province except Newfoundland, MacDougall said he’s more than suited to represent the constituency in Ottawa.

“I’m good at research, and I’m good at understanding what people want, even if I don’t seem to have the personality for it,” MacDougall said during an interview on Tuesday. “I’m sincere enough that people will actually believe I can do something, and I think that’s one of my major selling points. People will, even with doubts, trust me, and I’m insecure enough that I don’t want to lose that trust. That, I think, more than anything else is my strength.”

MacDougall grew up the child of a Canadian Armed Forces veteran from Prince Edward Island, and a first-generation Ukrainian-Canadian from Saskatchewan. He graduated from Dalhousie University in 1976 with two degrees and started teaching in Central Quebec.

His upbringing as a self-described “Armed Services brat” allowed him to meet several Prime Ministers over the years, including current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre.

MacDougall said he has no illusions about how difficult it will be to unseat a four-term incumbent who won the last campaign by more than 5,000 votes. As long as he gets a chance to make his case and change some minds, he’ll be happy.

“Do I have a chance? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not, but I’m going to try,” said MacDougall, who currently lives in Muskoday with his family. “What I want is (for) Mr. Hoback to come out and debate. Estelle (Liberal candidate Estelle Hjertass) will, but Randy, I want him to come out and debate. I want him to be present.

“If I go to the correctional facility to address the inmates there and ask them what their problems are, I want Randy Hoback in the same room—even if he’s not contributing…. It’s called an exchange of ideas. We’ve stopped doing that in the last five campaigns.”

MacDougall said he has no personal issue with Hoback, even going so far as to credit the longtime MP for knowing what his job is as an politician. However, MacDougall said he’s faced smug criticism from rank and file members of the political right over columns he wrote for the Prince Albert Daily Herald over the last two years, and that’s helped spur him into the political arena. (Editor’s note: MacDougall and the Daily Herald have mutually agreed to temporarily cease running his column for the rest of the federal election campaign.)

“I can’t remember what the (column) was about, but they came in and said, ‘why doesn’t he run instead? Why does he (write) this stuff,” MacDougall explained. “It was just the comment: ‘why doesn’t he put his money where his mouth is and run’ … so for me it’s more personal.”

MacDougall said Indigenous concerns, COVID and climate change are some of the big issues he’s concerned about. He said previous Conservative governments have ignored communities like Muskoday, while the Liberals take Indigenous votes for granted.

He said Canadian politicians need to learn to do a better job of communicating and partnering with Indigenous leaders, something he’s confident the NDP can do if they form government.

MacDougall is one of six candidates running in the constituency of Prince Albert—Hoback, Hjertass, PPC candidate John McCrea, Maverick Party candidate Heather Schmitt and Green Party candidate Hamish Graham.

The federal election is on Sept. 20.

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