With the federal election called for September 20, incumbent Nickel Belt Liberal candidate Marc Serré is seeking a third term in office. His campaign offices have opened in Sturgeon Falls and Val Caron, signs are all around the area, and Serré is hoping his roots in West Nipissing will help him win another local victory.
But Serré is not taking anything for granted. He knows that while the Liberals are polling well, there’s a swathe of resentment that an election has been called during a pandemic, and while a good portion of the country is burning to the ground. “There’s never a good time for a federal election,” says Serré. “We’ve been close to 2 years with a minority government, the fourth longest serving minority government in Canadian history, and minority governments normally only last a year-and-a-half. The last election in 2019 was pre-COVID. At this point we’re looking at how to move things forward. For me, I’m grateful to the people in Nickel Belt for electing me twice and now I’m looking to get the confidence of the people a third time. It’s always challenging but I really like my job, I like doing what I’m doing. I’ve been a Parliamentary Secretary twice now, I’ve focused a lot on seniors’ issues, with New Horizons Funding, and a push for independence for FedNor. The bottom line is to keep our youth in West Nipissing, and Nickel Belt and Northern Ontario.”
The Liberals are going for a majority government, obviously, and while the NDP have been for the most part supporting Liberal initiatives, it’s hard to flex one’s muscles while having to appease the opposition. “The pandemic has changed many things,” notes Serré. “We need to focus on moving forward. We’ve done some good legislation in the last year and a half, with businesses, subsidies, helping people on CERB, but with climate change we need to do more.” Serré says the pressure is on to move forward with green infrastructure, and while COVID required spending to support individuals and businesses, “Now we have to re-align our economy. It’s very difficult to do with a minority government.”
Serré understands that some people prefer a minority government. “There is the feeling we just need the NDP to pass legislation, but it’s not as simple as that. The fall economic stimulus is a good example; there was money in there for businesses, for individuals, that we proposed last fall but did not get approved until the very last day in Parliament, in June … minority governments don’t last.”
With two mandates behind him, and a potential third, does Serré have ambitions beyond the scope of MP? He responds, “You’re elected to be a Member of Parliament. I am so honoured to be an MP.” He acknowledges that he was appointed by Trudeau to two Parliamentary Secretary positions, for Natural Resources and for Rural Economic Development, but says “there’s still more work to be done in Nickel Belt as MP. I am very happy to be an MP – you get to work with local groups, with municipalities, and that’s number one.”