The leader of an upstart political party in Manitoba says although the party sits to the right politically of the current PC Government, they don’t believe that anyone should be labelling them as extreme or far-right.
“In my mind, we are right-wing and Conservative, but we are closer to the middle,” Kevin Friesen, the interim leader of the newly-formed Keystone Party of Manitoba said.
“Yes we feel we are right of the Conservatives, but that is because we feel they have gone so far to the left.”
Friesen, a Manitou resident and longtime agricultural producer, is the interim leader of the fledgling Keystone Party of Manitoba and said the newly-formed organization is working to collect the minimum 2,500 signatures needed to register with Elections Manitoba and hopes to field candidates in the 2023 provincial election.
While speaking to the Winnipeg Sun on Wednesday, Friesen said the party is building a platform that would promote Manitoban’s “personal freedoms,” but also one that he said would give power back to constituents, and leave less power in the hands of elected officials.
“What we are really going to be is a truly grassroots party, where the membership really have the power,” he said.
“This is about working for the membership, and not about the power of the leader or the interim leader, Membership need to have a say because right now in government decisions are being made at the leadership levels and we don’t think that is working.”
On current COVID-19 health orders and vaccine mandates in this province, Friesen did say that because of his belief in “personal freedom” he believes that some of the current mandates have gone too far.
“Because we are a party that is going to stand for freedom and stand for Manitobans to have freedom we will uphold the rights of people because we think there have been some violations here,” Friesen said.
“We think it’s an overreach by the government with some of the things that have happened.”
According to Friesen, the party would also run on a promise to be fiscally responsible and be focused on making sure the government does not spend more money than it takes in.
“It will be a guiding principle for us to be fiscally responsible and focus on fiscal responsibility,” he said.
“You have to match what you are spending to what is coming in, it’s that simple. Decisions have to be made on where to spend money because we don’t want to drop our kids and grandkids into severe debt.”
Friesen was also asked about the party’s stance on immigration and he said he is personally pro-immigration and believes that newcomers make this country a better place.
“Our steering committee has been talking to people from all walks of life and we have talked to a lot of people that have immigrated here and immigration is a great way to grow this province,” Friesen said.
“This province is far from full, we have lots of room for expansion here.”
Friesen said he feels confident the party can reach and exceed the minimum 2,500 signatures they need to register, and he said he believes the party could “make waves” in the next provincial election.
“The idea here is that we think the leadership in this province has really lacked in the last few years and we think that a grassroots party led by someone who knows they are working for the people, will be something that is 100% different,” Friesen said.
“This party was created to make a difference, and to be a factor in the next election.”
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun