1. Why are you running to be MPP for Kenora-Rainy River?
I am a corrections officer at the Kenora Jail. Seventeen years ago, when the facility I was working at was closed, I was offered a transfer to either Toronto or Kenora.
I didn’t even hesitate. My wife, Zoe, and I very quickly decided we wanted to raise our family in Northwestern Ontario so we packed up and headed west. Zoe and I have never regretted our decision to make Kenora home.
When our previous MPP announced she was not going to run again, I saw I could expand my passion for working on behalf of people onto a broader stage.
Becoming the MPP for Kenora-Rainy River would be an honour and privilege.
2. What are your qualifications/experience for the job?
For over three decades, I have been a strong advocate for workers, with a special interest in health and safety. Over the years, I have developed the skills necessary to represent people one-on-one when they have needed someone to stand up for them.
I will be a strong voice at Queen’s Park on behalf of all the people in Kenora-Rainy River.
3. What is the main message you hope to convey to voters during the campaign?
This election is about choices. Kathleen Wynne lied to Ontarians and sold off Hydro One. After 15 years of Liberal government, hospitals are overcrowded and people are forced to travel outside their communities for care.
Doug Ford has said he will slash $6 billion across the board. This means cuts to vital services, including health care, with 20,000 nurses fired and hospitals closed.
This election, you don’t have to settle. You don’t have to switch between bad and worse. Andrea Horwath and the NDP will deliver change for the better in Ontario.
Together, we can provide drug and dental coverage for everyone, end hallway medicine and allow people to get the care they need in their communities, cut hydro [rates] by 30 percent, and protect middle-class families by having the wealthiest people and wealthiest corporations pay a bit more.
It’s time for a change–a change for the better with Andrea Horwath and the NDP.
4. What opportunities do you see for the forest and future use of the fibre in our riding?
For decades, Conservative and Liberal governments sat by while paper mills, sawmills, plywood and wood processing mills closed, killing thousands of jobs. An NDP government will stand with forestry and mill workers to defend good, sustainable jobs.
We’ll develop a provincial forest strategy to protect the long-term sustainability of our forests. And we will defend our resource sector’s viability by ensuring it meets the highest environmental and sustainability standards.
We will work to ensure the forestry sector has access to an annual allowable cut that is sustainable, and allows the industry to grow and thrive.
High hydro prices are an ongoing challenge for Ontario’s resource sector. While the privatization scheme adopted by the Liberals, and supported by the PCs, will increase bills by over 70 percent, New Democrats will lower bills by getting private profits off of hydro bills, and eliminating unfair rural delivery charges.
The resource sector can count on an NDP government to lower bills and keep them low.
5. What is your priority when it comes to improving health care for residents of our riding?
After 15 years of Liberal government, it’s the new normal in Ontario hospitals: waiting for hours in emergency rooms only to end up on a gurney in a hallway–with no privacy or dignity–because there aren’t enough hospital beds.
Years of cuts and funding freezes have pushed hospitals across Ontario into a dangerous overcrowding crisis. The last Conservative government shut down 28 hospitals, closed over 7,000 beds, and laid off 6,000 nurses. And Kathleen Wynne froze hospital operating budgets for four years in a row, forcing hospitals to make deep cuts to keep up.
Andrea Horwath and the NDP will restore northern hospital funding and ensure it keeps pace every year with inflation, population growth, and the unique needs of communities, such as an aging population and population growth, including in rural and remote locations.
We will improve access to health care for people in their own communities. Funding will increase immediately by 5.3 percent. We will make sure that hospitals have the staff they need to provide excellent patient care. We will stop any further layoffs of nurses and front-line health care workers.
And our $19-billion capital investment will include much-needed investments to replace or repair aging northern hospitals.
6. What is your plan to build and sustain the agricultural industry in our riding?
For too long, Kathleen Wynne has pushed policies that squeeze out family farms and make operating more expensive for everyone. What’s worse is Doug Ford’s plan to cut $6 billion in services and programs, which means programs that support agriculture, agri-science, and rural areas would be on the chopping block of a Ford government.
The NDP will get rid of unfair rural hydro delivery costs that are the highest in Canada while reducing hydro costs by 30 percent.
We will stop and reverse the cuts and closures, and invest in rural transportation, health care, schools, and infrastructure–ensuring cohesive rural communities and a strong rural economy that all Ontarians benefit from.
We will create a 10-year, $1-billion fund to bring broadband service to rural and northern Ontario. We’ll invest $100 million in natural gas expansion to rural Ontario to reduce dependence on high- carbon diesel and heating oil.
We will support investments to turn farm waste into biogas and connect this renewable energy alternative to Ontario’s natural gas grid, reducing energy costs and carbon emissions. The NDP will increase the cap on the Risk Management Program for agricultural producers. We will work with farming groups to ensure young farmers can get their foot in the door.
7. What is your strategy to ensure the local tourism continues to be a major economic engine?
Kenora-Rainy River is a premier destination for outdoor tourism. Our lakes and our shorelines are some of our greatest attributes, and something I personally enjoy. New Democrats will support [local] municipalities and their plans to prioritize tourism to attract more visitors and stimulate our local economy.
We will restore funding to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), increasing it to $550 million. This funding will allow local governments to make long-term plans and investments, including in new tourism infrastructure projects.
The NDP recognize that small businesses are the backbone of the Ontario economy, and the tourism industry. Unlike the Liberals, who have done nothing for the past 15 years, and the Conservatives, whose plan to cut corporate taxes will only help large corporations like Doug Ford’s, we plan on working together with small businesses to create good jobs and support local communities.
8. How can First Nations’ communities play a bigger role in economic development locally?
An Ontario NDP government will work with First Nations communities to establish a true government-to- government relationship, work with First Nations’ leaders to sign a co-operative government-to-government accord, replace the Far North Act, and implement resource revenue-sharing with First Nations
[We would] exempt First Nations communities from electricity delivery charges, and connect remote First Nations to the grid through the Wataynikaneyap Power Grid Connection Project, [as well as] work with First Nations and the federal government to ensure First Nations and indigenous students have access to the same high quality of education as every other student in Ontario.
[We would] bring a badly-needed jolt of political energy to get things moving on the “Ring of Fire.” Northern communities have waited far too long–we will invest $1 billion to get the “Ring of Fire” moving now.
[We would] collaborate with northern communities and First Nations to quickly begin building the infrastructure that will allow development projects to proceed.
1. Why are you running to be MPP for Kenora-Rainy River?