“They're like 'What are you doing here?'” he said. “First off, this is how I get grounded, because I need to come and talk to the people.”
As the NDP's 100 MPs did in each of their ridings, Thibeault was out on the hustings Feb. 22, speaking about the party's affordability campaign.
The campaign, launched by the NDP last fall, focuses on issues such as ATM fees, credit card interest rates and gas prices.
In many cases, Thibeault, the NDP's consumer affairs critic, said he was inspired to tackle these issues after conversations with Sudburians.
“It's the things that Canadians are being nickeled and dimed to death on,” he said.
In some cases, ATM fees are $2 per transaction, but it's only costing banks 36 cents per transaction to provide ATM service, Thibeault said. The NDP wants these fees capped at 50 cents per transaction.
That way, banks can still make a profit without “gouging” Canadians," he said.
“On average, it costs Canadians anywhere between $300 and $500 per year to take out their own money, and the banks are making $400 million a year off of this,” Thibeault said.
He said he'd also like to see Canadians have access to lower interest credit cards.
“Banks need to offer at least one credit card that is only five per cent above prime,” Thibeault said.
Fairer gas prices are also on his hit list. Thibeault said it's a bit of a mystery why gas costs so much more in Sudbury than it does in Sturgeon Falls or North Bay.
Gas companies tell him that it depends on how far away you are from the refineries. But Sturgeon Falls is farther away from Sarnia's refineries than Sudbury is, Thibeault said.
He said he's asked the Competition Bureau to investigate, but they said there isn't enough complaints about the issue to justify an investigation.
“From my opinion, from the phone calls that are coming in, and when I talk to people in going door to door, this is an issue,” Thibeault said.
The MP had some help in spreading his message Feb. 22. About 25 volunteers went door-to-door across the city's South End and Southview Drive area to speak about affordability issues, and to listen to people's views.
Speaking to Northern Life before he headed out to knock on doors, volunteer Chad Machum said he thinks these kinds of issues resonate with Sudburians.
“I think they're going to be shocked on some of the stats about how much banks do make on transactions,” he said.