Former MP running as independent candidate in Cape Breton-Canso

GLACE BAY: A former New Democrat (NDP) MP has once again entered her name in the upcoming federal election – but this time she’s running as an Independent.

Michelle Dockrill says she continues to see the decline of Cape Breton, whether you talk outmigration or the continued and constant rate of unemployment, the issues are all connected.

“For many Cape Bretoners, traditional political parties have become part of the problem here,” she said. “Liberal, Conservative and NDP parties have failed to address the island’s decline.”

In 1997, Dockrill was elected to the House of Commons in the riding of Bras d’Or-Cape Breton – now know as Cape Breton-Canso – when she surprisingly defeated Liberal cabinet minister David Dingwall.

This made Dockrill the first woman residing in Cape Breton to be elected either provincially or federally.

Following her one-term in office, she returned to her work in the Cape Breton District Health Authority helping families and individuals suffering from addiction, while maintaining an active role representing local members of Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union in their fight for public healthcare from Glace Bay to Antigonish, and after a 32-year career, retired in 2017.

Dockrill believes MLAs and MPs are forced to keep quiet and sit at the back of the bus, meanwhile party bosses maintain policies which guarantee “the continued decline of the island.”

“In watching what has continued to go on here over the last number of years, in the experience that I have in Ottawa, in terms of how these rules operate, the partisanship and the focus on power, and maintaining power, it has created a chamber that has become dysfunctional, and it’s not about the electors.”

She indicated one of the important things about being an independent candidate is the freedom to be a vehicle for those who sent them, and the freedom to support any initiative by any individual or party.

“You have the freedom to support initiatives the people have determined were good for the collective here. You’re not answerable except to the people of this island,” Dockrill said. “We have to bring democracy back to benefitting all. We’ve kind of fallen short on what’s supposed to be best. It gives you a real sense; most people truly believe they can make a difference in a place that they love. As a whole, we’ve lost sight of that, and it’s become about power.”

Dockrill believes communities need to work together, as opposed to what she claims has been happening for the past 20-years, in terms of dividing communities.

“Things have to be focused on the collective island, we’ve had issues in Inverness, the golf course an absolute positive initiative for the area, but now we have a major problem in terms of infrastructure,” she said. “How do you sit around a table, and discuss the ins and outs of a project that large, without having an environmental impact study, which would have recognized the present infrastructure and the inability to sustain what was going to be put there. That doesn’t happen anywhere else.”

Dockrill questions why is it that people can’t live here and make a comfortable living without having to struggle.

“We have to be truthful in what is needed to sustain people here – we don’t have it, if we did have it, we wouldn’t have the outmigration,” she said. “We have the third highest business tax outside of Toronto, that’s mind-boggling, if you were a small business, that may impact your decision to come here.”

Dockrill indicated we can’t continue to deny the serious continued decline of the island or else we’ll end up being the playground for the rich.

“It’s time for us to speak with one voice, and to challenge things that are not good for here, and to speak loud and support the things that are.”