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Getting to Know the Candidates: Rick Loewen, Independent

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Rick Loewen Independent Crop
Rick Loewen is running as an independent candidate in Provencher this election cycle.

Canadians from coast to coast will be going to the polls on September 20 to elect a new federal government. Here in Provencher, five candidates have been announced so far. To help you make a decision ahead of election day, The Citizen has reached out to the candidates. Let’s get to know them.

Rick Loewen is from the Landmark area within Provencher. Along with his wife Deb, he has been a foster parent for 21 years. He has always had an interest in politics and has worked in the media industry in both television and radio.

“Up until 2010, I was in the media in radio TV,” says Loewen. “I did a show called Two Sports Guys, working in Tampa, Florida for one year at a sports station and then on multiple talk radio stations for years.”

Loewen says his friends would call him impetuous, passionate, and eccentric, but that his understanding of what local families need from political leadership is what will help him represent Provencher effectively.

“I like to entertain, it’s true. If you can’t get a laugh out of life, it’s tough to get by sometimes,” says Loewen. “But we’ve been foster parents, so we get it. The area around here has needs they’ve made known to me. And as much as I like to be entertaining and speak bluntly, I think I have a good handle on what’s going on, and I have the skills to do the job. I’m a transparent guy, so I’ll tell it like it is. And so it is very easy to get to know me.”

He says that he will lead transparently, which is one of the benefits of running as an independent candidate.

“I’m not beholden to any party. The other party candidates can’t say anything against their party, but I’m not bound by that. The freedom there is that I can critique anyone and hold them accountable. I can also admit when other parties do have good ideas. If a party has a really good idea, I can support it from that party if it really works. But if something isn’t working, I don’t have to hide anything from anyone or say I support it when I don’t.”

Campaign Plans

Running as an independent was a last-minute decision for Loewen. While he has been interested in politics for a long time, he is learning a lot about campaigning and has decided not to engage in any door-knocking.

“It’s not a good time for door-knocking,” he says. “But I like to say, I’m not knocking on doors, I’m knocking on hearts.”

Loewen also has printed signs and plans to put them up around the area. So far, his signs and other expenses aren’t being funded by any federal contributions.

“As an independent, I don’t qualify for electoral funding. You have to have achieved a portion of the vote in the area to receive any reimbursement from the government,” explains Loewen. “So I have no campaign budget really, and I’m not going out with a mission to glean campaign dollars. There is some support from the elections office, such as a map or registered voter addresses. I accepted the map, but not the voter addresses so far. So that’s it.”

Loewen’s online presence includes a Facebook and Instagram profile, as well as a YouTube channel where his blunt messaging can be viewed in a series of videos.

He has also requested to be part of the online live public forum produced by the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce, to be aired on September 16.

“I have a call in to the Chamber and I’m waiting for a response,” he says. “I’d really like to get an invitation, but I’m not sure they’ll allow it because I’m just an independent, not from a party. I have something to say, so I’d really like to be included.”

Goals and Values: Fiscally Conscious, Socially Progressive

Loewen’s platform includes a number of progressive views on social issues facing Canadians today. He says he is a voice for people who would view themselves as fiscal Conservatives but socially progressive.

“There are a lot of disenfranchised Conservatives around here right now who have just had it with the current representative,” says Loewen. “They are so fed up with the limited view being presented by Ted Falk, who is keeping people in the dark ages. There is a vacuum there to be filled by good leadership for conservatives who are waking up every morning and noticing that the world is changing—climate change, the social fabric of Canada is changing with so many immigrants, and also the prevalence of the continuously emerging LGBTQ community.”

Even though Loewen speaks mostly to members of the public who would identify as politically conservative, he says he has a broader appeal to many in Provencher who can’t support the current Conservative Member of Parliament.

“Inclusivity is so important and there are many people who need representation in the federal government, and they’re not getting that. Around here, if you’re inclusive, you just aren’t getting represented properly in the federal government.”

In terms of specific policies, Loewen says he would support federal programs that support alleviating poverty in Canada, as well as providing support to First Nations populations.

“I support certain federal plans that would see those who need help most attain what they need to live with dignity,” says Loewen. “For example, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). It’s a program that helps Canadians with long-term disabilities save for the future. Yes, it’s a Liberal idea, but it’s a tremendous idea for people with a disability to benefit from a program from the federal government.

He adds that his wife works with First Nations groups in the north, and through their work in the foster care system they have firsthand experience with Indigenous issues.

“I would love to get more involved with learning how I could help with Indigenous issues at the federal table… There are some things that are being done that aren’t helping and there are some things can be done that aren’t being done.”

The Vaccination Question

Loewen knows that vaccination is currently a top-of-mind issue with voters. He confirms that he is fully vaccinated but feels that Conservatives are twisting the discussion about vaccines unnecessarily.

“Let’s face it: saying, ‘my body, my choice’ is a red herring,” Loewen says. “It is a choice to get vaccinated in Canada. Nobody is making anyone get vaccinated. I know why people are saying it, but it’s not a real thing. I know, for vaccinations, there are exceptions for those who cannot get it and I support that. But in Canada, if you can, you should just get the vaccine, because the science is there and it says you should. Throughout history, vaccines have benefitted us with MMR, polio, etc. It’s horribly irresponsible for people to not become vaccinated.”

Despite all this, it’s become a wedge issue—which, he says, is exactly what the Conservatives want.

“It’s a lack of leadership that Ted Falk will not disclose whether or not he’s vaccinated,” Loewen says. “He doesn’t want to lose votes based on people who do not understand the science or submit to the medical leaders we have today, which is not okay. And let’s be clear, nobody’s freedoms are being infringed upon. There are so many people I’ve talked to who are saying that this is a violation of our Charter rights, but legally it isn’t. We are still free to choose; it’s just the evidence is clear that we should be vaccinated. But because people are afraid, it seems so easy and it is comforting to blame a federal body.”

Loewen is also supportive of a vaccine passport provincially, as well as measures taken by the federal government to introduce a vaccine mandate for federal employees.

“The vaccine passport is excellent,” he says. “It should have been done earlier. It makes people safer and makes people feel safer. The federal vaccine passport reaches many types of workers and it gives a layer of protection.”

Conservatives Fomenting Fear

Loewen wants the voters of Provencher to have an independent option for many reasons, not least of which is that it sets a good example for his own children.

“We want to do some good, so yes, around here that means a change,” he says. “I love talking politics, so sometimes you better put up or shut up. I keep telling my kids, ‘No challenge, no change. Get up and do something.’ So here I am. I’ve wanted to run for years and it seemed to culminate this year in a perfect storm of issues coming up.”

Loewen says that in Provencher, these issues have been especially top-of-mind with Conservatives and evangelical Christians.

“What makes me most passionate is to dispel fear with information. The fear of ‘other’ is especially prevalent in the evangelical Christian demographic—fear of immigrants, fear of LGBTQ, fear of anyone who speaks differently or eats different foods. There is a thread of white evangelical privilege that people are stuck on, and the Conservatives from Vic Toews right on to Ted Falk have fomented that. They have stoked that fear to evoke their passionate base to anger at a lot things, anger which they see as righteous. But it’s terrible. It’s anti-Christian what they’re doing, and yet they’re doing it under the guise of being Christian.”

Loewen says people should know that they have more in common than they think and that misinformation that breeds fear should be denounced by strong leadership.

“The fear-mongering in this area is too much,” he insists. “And I am aware that people think fear-mongering comes from the media and from science. But if they think science is fear-mongering, that’s like saying gravity is fear-mongering. Science is not emotional. And our current MP has failed to serve his population on that count, by holding out on affirming the sciences around vaccination.”

Campaign Not a Joke

Because Conservatives have represented Provencher federally for more than 20 years, some people have suggested that an independent like Loewen has no chance of winning.

With his bombastic personality and the humour presented in his campaign videos, others have also suggested that he’s running only as a joke, but Loewen says his campaign is entirely serious.

“People are probably right that I’m not going to win, but what is the point then of anyone running in this area?” says Loewen. “Will I make a difference? That’s for the voters to decide. And if someone thinks I am running only to make a statement, that’s fine. If my views help make someone think, then that’s a good thing. But it’s not a joke at all. I’m entirely serious and prepared to represent Provencher in Ottawa and represent Provencher well.”

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