Manitoba byelection | Former bureaucrat running in Tory stronghold
After more than three decades as an apolitical federal agricultural and trade bureaucrat, southern Manitoba resident Terry Hayward decided half a decade ago to jump into the political arena.
In 2011, he ran in the riding of Provencher as the Liberal candidate and won just seven percent of the vote.
This year, with five-time incumbent Vic Toews retired and a byelection pending, Hayward is at it again, challenging Conservative candidate Ted Falk, longtime president of the Steinbach Credit Union.
In 2011, Toews won the riding with more than 70 percent of the vote.
Prime minister Stephen Harper has not yet announced a byelection date.
Hayward says the leap from bureaucracy to politics “wasn’t really a big jump” once he retired from the federal government in 2006.
“I loved my job as an apolitical civil servant, but I just wasn’t happy with the way Canada was going by 2008, when there was a totally unnecessary election and too much secrecy,” he said.
For more than 30 years, Hayward served as an Agriculture Canada bureaucrat, serving as legislative assistant to both Liberal minister Eugene Whelan and Progressive Conservative minister John Wise, deputy departmental secretary and regional departmental director in Alberta.
For six years at the end of his career, he was the executive director of the National Farm Products Council of Canada. After retirement, he served for 18 months as executive director of the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council.
During his years in government, Hayward also acted as an attaché at the Canadian Embassy in Washington and the High Commission in New Zealand, often dealing with trade issues.
“I really think my background in the public service will help,” Hayward said in an interview.
“I have seen how policy is formed and works. I have dealt with the trade file. Those two issues are large in this rural riding.”
The Provencher riding, which stretches west from the southeast corner of Manitoba south of Winnipeg, holds the largest concentration of supply management agriculture in the province.
“I think it is important for people not in agriculture to understand how beneficial supply management is in this riding and throughout the country,” he said. “I will be raising the issue that trade negotiations now being held behind closed doors could affect supply management and farmers have a right to know what is being discussed.”
Hayward said he also will alert farmers in the riding about the danger of business risk management safety net cuts that took effect this year but will not be obvious to most farmers until commodity prices and incomes fall in future years.
“I think farmers will be shocked and I plan to warn them about it,” he said.
Although the Provencher riding has been solidly Conservative since 2000, it has voted Liberal in the past. David Iftody held the seat from 1993 to 2000 as the last Prairie rural seat held by the party.
“I totally believe this riding is winnable,” said Hayward. “Many of the Progressive Conservatives here don’t recognize their party anymore.”