By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
The race is on with less than a month to go before Ontarians hit the polls.
It will be a provincial election unlike any other, the first in the midst of COVID-19. The pandemic is expected to be a hot ticket election item on voters’ minds when electing their preferred government.
In 2018 the Ford blue wave swept the province after a massive defeat for the Kathleen Wynne-led Liberals, which left them with only seven seats. While the conservative’s took government, the NDP also saw increased support.
Early polling shows the Progressive Conservatives and Premier Doug Ford are on track to be elected for a second term. The Liberals are trailing closely behind, with NDP support lagging.
A Leger poll released May 4, shows Conservatives coming in with 36 per cent support, the Liberals coming in second at 29 per cent. Polls show the NDP at 25 per cent support.
Lisa MacLeod And The Progressive Conservatives
In Barrhaven on May 1, about 100 people packed Progressive Conservative incumbent candidate Lisa MacLeod’s office for her official campaign kickoff. The five-term Nepean MPP won the 2018 provincial election with a little over 45 per cent of the vote, or 23,899 ballots.
In her roughly 10 minute speech, MacLeod rhymed off her record and a list of accomplishments over the last 16 years. That included funding for three new Barrhaven elementary schools announced just last week, the building of the Vimy Memorial Bridge, the opening of the Rideau Valley Health Centre, and efforts that followed after multiple tornadoes hit the community in 2018.
“Sixteen years at Queens Park, and I have been a fighter for the residents of Nepean and Nepean-Carleton (before that),” she said. “Every single day the people at Queens Park know that I represent the City of Ottawa; They know that I am a fighter for the community, and they know that I will get things done.”
MacLeod was met by about 20-30 protesters outside her Cedarview road campaign office, parents of autistic children who are disappointed over the government’s handling of the system. The Nepean MPP was Minister of Community and Social Services for the first year in government, which included the autism portfolio.
“Each and every single day at the Ontario legislature, I look up to the ceiling and I think of what an honour it is that I have been elected and have chosen to be a representative in that assembly,” said MacLeod. “I represent people from the left, the right, and the middle, to make sure that when they have a voice it’s a strong one at Queens Park.”
MacLeod also paid tribute to the people fleeing war in Ukraine, and referenced her staffer Pavlo Kucher, who’s parents are currently hiding in underground bomb shelters. Kucher, whose family are in Ukraine, recently saw his 78-year-old grandfather enlist into the army.
While facing a swarm of attacks over this election cycle, MacLeod said she won’t let the keyboard warriors over Twitter take her down. Instead she says her focus is on getting a sixth term at Queens Park.
“The Liberals and the NDP can’t attack my record, for what I have done for the people of Nepean,” said MacLeod. They can’t attack my record for standing up for the people of Ottawa, and they can’t attack my record for investing more into social services. They can’t attack my record for investing more in tourism, heritage, and sport; They can’t attack my record period. All they can do, the NDP and the Liberals, is attack me personally.”
Tyler Watt And The Liberals
Nepean Liberal candidate Tyler Watt officially launched his campaign on April 26. The 31-year-old has put a strong focus on COVID-19 during this election cycle, and the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Watt has worked as a nurse in both hospitals and long-term care homes during the pandemic, and contracted the virus himself a few months back. Given his frontline background, Watt says his ideas have become part of the Liberal party’s health plan.
‘I think that they (the Ford government) were very late on all the things they could have done to be more preventative in the handling of COVID,” he said. “One example is we still don’t have paid sick days: That’s one thing we could easily change that would help people stay home or they are sick. A lot of people have to go to work so they can afford to pay their bills.”
The Nepean Liberal candidate said he feels the government should have waited longer before removing mask mandates in schools. Watt said he’s glad to see they will remain in certain settings until at least June, and feels we would be in a better position pandemic-wise if some restrictions came sooner.
“They usually waited until it got so bad that we had to go into lockdown to stop it,” said Watt. “We are not advocating for lockdowns; we are advocating to do things to prevent us from getting to that point.”
Just days ago Ontario Liberal party leader Steven Del Duca announced if elected this summer, his party would make transit fares across the province only a dollar a ride, or $40 for a monthly pass. The costs municipalities would lose would then be covered by the province.
Watt says he’s all for the idea, saying it would help those on a low income.
“It’s going to make commuting a lot more affordable and accessible for people,” he said. “It’s just one of the ways we are addressing the cost of living for many. We are estimating it will pull about 4,000 cars off the road, encouraging people to act more green in their travels.”
In the 2018 provincial election, the Liberal candidate Lovina Srivastava came in third with a little over 19 per cent of the vote. Watt says his party has spent the last four years rebuilding after loss, and has many new and young candidates bringing ideas to the table. Barrhaven is changing, he says, along with voting habits.
“I was born and raised in Barrhaven when it was mostly farmland and we had that one McDonalds on Strandherd. It has changed so much over the last few decades,” said Watt. “It’s so much more diverse, multicultural, and Nepean has really boomed. I think people are eager for a change in leadership, someone who is going to represent their voice for Nepean at Queens Park.”
Brian Double And The New Democrats
On May 4, the New Democrats announced Brian Double would be their candidate in Nepean.
“I’m excited to be running to represent the people of Nepean and to join Andrea Horwath and the committed team of New Democrats who are ready to fix what the Ford Conservatives and years of Liberal governments have broken,” he said in a statement.
Double has worked for the federal government for the last 20 years, and has inspected ocean vessels for pests, travelled the world to negotiate international trade agreements, managed a social media team during a Federal election, and enabled economic development benefiting Indigenous communities.
“Our economy needs solutions that meet the needs of families struggling with affordability and access to essential public services. Andrea Horwath and the NDP are the team that can beat Doug Ford and deliver what matters most to the people of Ontario. I am excited to join this hard-working team,” said Double.
Kaitlyn Tremblay’s name will also be on the ballot representing the Green Party, and Kathleen Corriveau will be representing the New Blue Party.
Voters will hit the polls on June 2. For the latest local election updates, visit the Barrhaven Independent website and Facebook page.