SASKATCHEWAN – Liberal Party candidate and long time member of Canada’s Heathen community, Robert Rudachyk officially kicks off his campaign today in his bid to represent Saskatoon-Riverdale as a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA). This is a seat in the Province of Saskatchewan and is similar to holding office at the state level in the U.S.
In 2014, Mr. Rudachyk sought the nomination to become the Liberal Party of Canada‘s candidate for the federal riding of Saskatoon West, a federal level position. However, he wasn’t nominated by his party. For this current election, Rudachyk has not only received nomination by his party, but he also feels that he has an excellent shot at winning the election. This would make Rudachyk the first openly elected Heathen in Canada.
Although today is when the writ for the election officially drops, Rudachyk has been knocking on doors in his riding (an area similar to an electoral district) since January. He said that he’s knocked on about 60% of the estimated 5000 single family homes and a smaller portion of the 5000 to 8000 apartments and townhomes.
Rudachyk has 60 volunteers signed up to help him campaign. His two opponents haven’t been as active and he said that they’re in for a surprise today, “I have 168 sign locations already and my team is going out [this morning ] to put up the signs. When my opponents go out today to start their campaigns, my signs will be up all over. They’ll be locked out of entire neighborhoods.”
Rudachyk, who champions campaign funding reforms to limit corps and special interest donations to under $3000 CAD, said individual donations are critical to a successful campaign. “I need to pay for literature, signs, and food for volunteers. If you don’t feed them, they won’t come back and help again,” Rudachyk joked. Canadian law prevents non-Canadians from donating to his campaign.
After Rudachyk’s failed attempt to gain the Liberal Party’s nomination at the federal level in 2014, Darrin Lamoureux approached him to run at the Provincial level. Since Rudachyk had already made it through the challenging process of being green lit for office, which includes background checks and other campaign critera, it was smooth sailing to get the nomination to run for the MLA. “Darrin Lamoureux and I talked early on. He said he was impressed with me and wanted to work with me.”
Rudachyk has already made his mark on the Liberal Party at the provincial level. He proposed a plank for the party’s platform that was accepted and adopted. His idea involves green energy to revitalize Saskatchewan. He proposes mandating Saskatchewan Power to purchase green energy from local independent producers at a fair market rate. In heavily agricultural Saskatchewan, this would mean farmers could have a second crop, wind and solar. It would also allow homeowners to set up solar and wind systems for their home and sell excess energy to the power company. Additionally, homeowners would be credited back up to 25% of the costs of initial set up through income tax reductions spread out over 2 years.
What do people think of these ideas? “They love it! Especially the homeowners,” said Rudachyk. Doorknocking gives him the chance to interact with voters and to gauge their support for him and his policy positions. He said that he’s seeing support from 25% to 60% of the people with whom he’s talked. It doesn’t hurt that the Liberal Party, headed nationally by popular Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is experiencing an upswing.
The Liberal Party is considered a centrist party in Canada, while the Saskatchewan Party is the provincial level right wing party and the New Democratic Party is to the left. Rudachyk said the Liberal Party “looks at both sides to find the best solutions to service the majority of people.”
The LP is also very religiously diverse in candidates and supporters. The LP has many Muslim, Christian, athiest, and Hindu candidates. Rudachyk said that so far he hasn’t encountered any resistance, either from his party or out on the campaign trail, about his religion. “I’m on public record about my religion, but I dont shove it down peoples’ throats.”
He believes Canadian acceptance of diversity comes from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, put into place by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, back in the 1980’s. “This clearly spells out the individual rights and liberties we have. It’s focused on individual liberties and I think that helps make us want to build a better place to live.” said Rudachyk.
Wanting to build a better place to live is why Rudachyk is running for office and, although he’s not shoving his religion down peoples’ throats, Heathenry does shape his approach to life and politics, “My view is that we are our deeds, and the name we have is only borrowed from our ancestors. It is not returned to them, but rather is passed on to our children. I wish to gain honour for my family name by doing everything I can to make this world a better place in any way I can.”
The election is slated to take place Apr. 4. The Wild Hunt will follow Rudachyk’s campaign and update as events unfold.