For Clint Arnason, the upcoming Athabasca by-election is about choice.
Arnason, a journeyman electrician with his safety administration ticket, will represent the separatist Buffalo Party when voters head to the polls on Feb. 15.
He said this election is about making sure people have options at the ballot box instead of just the same two parties competing with similar platforms.
“It’s just so there’s another voice out there, (and) somebody else to choose from,” Arnason said during a phone interview on Friday. “A lot of times, you find out with the bigger parties who have been around a long time that (their candidates) tow the party line.
“When you have a newer party that’s just starting out, they’re going to listen a lot more because they’re looking for the votes and they want to grow their party. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Arnason is originally from southern Saskatchewan, but spent lots of time working in the north, primarily in Cigar Lake. He said he’s still getting a handle on northern voters’ concerns, but believes he’s well equipped to understand them due to spending much of his life in small towns, where timely access to services is a problem.
He said healthcare access and rural policing are two issue the province needs to review, and invest more resources into the north if necessary.
“Why should I have to move, as I get older, into the City to get the (healthcare) that I need or for me to feel safe when I’d rather be living out in the country and still enjoying that way of life,” he said.
On the issue of rural crime, Arnason said the province needs to help RCMP develop better lines of communication with residents up north. He said crimes can’t be solved if residents are afraid to report them.
While those are both concerns, Arnason freedom and choice were the two biggest reasons he ran. He said Sask. Party and NDP plans for containing the pandemic are too narrow, and don’t address the concerns thousands of voters have.
He cited the recent trucker convoy to Ottawa as proof Canadians weren’t happy with any of the political parties, and believes his party can offer a better alternative.
“We believe in freedom,” he explained. “We believe in a person having a choice: your body, your choice. That’s really what this convoy is about.
“Everybody want to think that it’s about being vaccinated or unvaccinated. That’s not the main thing. It’s your freedom. It’s, ‘why do you need a passport to go somewhere, hurting the small businesses of the province, and for two years, have they really worked? If they’re not working, you’ve got to change something.”
Arnason is one of four candidates competing for the vacant seat in Athabasca. He’s facing Georgina Jolibois (NDP), Jim Lemaigre (Sask. Party), and Darwin Roy (Independent). The by-election is scheduled for Feb. 15.