Mathieson credits her youth as an asset

Politics: Candidate boasts experience

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 06:00 am

High River resident Melissa Mathieson sits in front of the Museum of the Highwood on Tuesday morning. Mathieson is seeking the nomination to become the Conservative Party’s candidate in this spring’s Macleod byelection.
High River resident Melissa Mathieson sits in front of the Museum of the Highwood on Tuesday morning. Mathieson is seeking the nomination to become the Conservative Party’s candidate in this spring’s Macleod byelection.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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Getting more people involved in politics at a younger age is an issue close to the heart of a High River resident hoping to be named the Conservative Party’s candidate in this spring’s federal election.

Melissa Mathieson said it’s important to attract more young people to become engaged in politics and government.

“For me as a young person I’m looking at the party and I’m looking at government in general in all parties and we need renewal, we need younger people,” she said. “We need to keep younger people and younger generations involved in the political process. There’s big things in Canada that we’re facing and we need to keep younger generations involved too.”

Mathieson is one of a group of five who are in the running to become the Conservative Party’s candidate in the Macleod riding and replace former MP Ted Menzies in the House of Commons.

The 24-year-old disagrees with anyone who thinks she’s too young to get into politics.

Mathieson said there are several MPs and cabinet ministers who entered politics at a young age, including Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore, who was first elected at the age of 24, and Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Pollievre who was first elected at the age of 25.

“Minister [Peter] McKay, Minister [Jason] Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, they were all elected in their early ‘30s and late ‘20s,” she said.

Mathieson sees her youth as an asset.

“I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think so,” she said. “I think we as a party and we as a country, we need to embrace youth as long as it comes with experience.”

Mathieson has already gained plenty of experience in politics and government. She first volunteered in the Macleod Riding 10 years ago, starting as a volunteer on local campaigns with Menzies.

“I’ve travelled the riding quite extensively with that role and my work with Ted Menzies, that gave me a good idea about the wants and needs the riding and the wants and needs of constituents here,” she said.

Mathieson went to work in Ottawa for Menzies and then in the Department of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office. She worked in issues management at the PMO and worked on pre-budget consultations for the 2013 budget.

“I was dealing with the issues our government was facing each day and the issues that affected Canadians,” she said.

Mathieson said her experience has also helped to build the relationships she needs to get things done for the Macleod riding.

“Knowing how the system works in Ottawa and knowing the people there and knowing the players, knowing the game, it’s important,” she said. “It’s important when you’re advocating for your constituency.”

Mathieson said flood recovery is on top of everyone’s mind right now.

She said the federal government can play a strong role, particularly to ensure new flood mitigation projects are built. Whoever ends up winning the by-election needs to be a strong voice in Ottawa to ensure the projects come to fruition, she said.

If elected to office, Mathieson said one of her top priorities will be supporting agriculture and opening more markets to trade.

“For Canada in general, trade is responsible for one in five jobs, but I would argue in Macleod it’s responsible for a lot more with the amount of agriculture we have here,” she said.

Mathieson would also like to work to reduce red tape and encourage more common sense gun policies.

“The more I travel through this riding, the more I landed on this issue and became passionate about it,” she said. “Even the smallest changes to existing legislation and the existing system could make a huge difference for so many people.”


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