By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
The next provincial election is now just days away, with candidates rushing to knock on as many doors as possible.
In 2018, Progressive Conservative candidate Lisa MacLeod won with a little over 45 per cent of the vote, with the New Democrats coming in second place, and the Liberals coming in third.
This election will have six names on the ballot for Nepean: Lisa MacLeod is running as the Progresive Conservative candidate; Tyler Watt is running for as the Liberal candidate; Brian Double is running for as the New Democrat candidate; Kathleen Corriveau is running as the New Blue Party candidate; Kaitlyn Tremblay is running as the Green Party candidate; and Ken O’Regan is running as the candidate for the None of the Above Party.
The riding of Nepean which includes all of Barrhaven, has a population of 132,769 residents as of 2021, and is 774 square kilometres in size.
The Barrhaven Independent reached out to the three main party candidates for a question and answer article.
Lisa MacLeod – Progressive Conservative Candidate
Lisa MacLeod, who has been the member of provincial parliament for Nepean (and Nepean-Carleton before that) has been in office since 2006, when a provincial by-election was called.
MacLeod’s campaign did not respond to repeated requests for an interview made by the Barrhaven Independent newspaper. Government sources have told multiple news outlets, including City News, that a directive has been given by the Ontario PC party to candidates, asking them to “carefully assess the value” of doing interviews or attending local debates.
After winning the last provincial election with 23,899 votes, MacLeod was named the minister in charge of children, community, and social services, which included the autism file, and was also minister in charge of women’s issues.
In February 2019 MacLeod’s ministry brought in sweeping changes to the Ontario Autism Program, which was intended to clear long waitlists and re-distribute funds. Those changes were later backtracked after the Nepean MPP faced a swarm of criticism from parents of autistic children, who said the changes would take much-needed support away from their children.
That backlash caused MacLeod to change ministries in June 2019, and is currently the minister of tourism, culture and sport.
Protests still regularly take place outside of MacLeod’s Greenbank Road constituency office, and at other sites across Ottawa. The group says while many promises have been made, no solutions have been delivered.
During this election cycle the Ontario NDP revealed that MacLeod had been receiving an allowance from her riding association, totalling $44,000 over three years. The money was used as a housing subsidy. While not illegal, the NDP called the move “unethical”, noting MPP’s receive $26,000 for accommodation in Toronto, on top of their salary.
Recently MacLead has announced funding for three new elementary schools to be built in Barrhaven to help keep up with the growing community. That was on top of a previous announcement of funding for the future Barrhaven Town Centre, which all three levels of government are paying for.
During her 16 years at Queen’s Park, MacLeod has been a champion for Rowan’s Law, a private members bill she created in memory of Rowan Stringer, a former John McCrae High School student who died after getting a concussion. The bill has helped with concussion awareness across the country, and has ensured that athletes remain safe in their sport.
When tornadoes hit the Ottawa region in 2018, MacLeod was credited for helping with relief efforts that got underway in Larkin Park. She also lists funding the Rideau Valley Health Centre and opening the Vimy Memorial Bridge as accomplishments.
Tyler Watt – Liberal Party Candidate
Q: This is your first time running for office, you are 31-years-old, why do you want to be Nepean next MPP?
A: I am a registered nurse working here in Nepean. I was born and raised here in Barrhaven and I remember when it was all farmland and we had the one McDonalds on Strandherd. I love how much Nepean has grown and changed over the last few decades. We are so diverse, multicultural, and it has become huge. People Are eager for change, someone with a young and progressive vision. I think how more than ever we need a nurses lens in government, someone who actually understands what is going on in the front lines.
Q: COVID-19 is obviously a huge election issue, it’s something no candidate could have prepared for in 2018. How do you rate the government’s handling of the pandemic and is there anything you would have liked to see done differently?
A: My experience as a frontline nurse during this pandemic is unique, I have that lens of being on the front lines, and there is a lot that I would have changed: Implementing 10 paid sick days is one because there’s a lot of people who have to go to work because they can’t miss one day; Things like making sure everyone has access to PCR testing, we still don’t have that.
Q: Education seems to be a big part of the Liberal party platform. Barrhaven has close to 30 schools, and more are always needing to be built. How would you want to improve the education system here?
A: One of the things I hear most at the doors apart from healthcare is our education system. Parents want to know that their kids are going to school safely, and are getting a quality education. The platform that we are running on is going to address that, it’s going to make sure that education workers and teachers have a safe and healthy work environment so they can provide that quality education for future generations. And with proper class sizes we can ensure physical distancing in class. The pandemic is still going on and we all want our students to stay in class.
Brian Double – NDP Candidate
Q: You are also a new name in politics. Why have you decided to run for the Nepean NDP?
A: I have been a federal public servant for the last 20 years, making differences in the lives of Canadians through public service, and I decided for this election, I wanted to try myself at politics. What I’ve been hearing is affordability is really important. My daughter is about the age where she’d like to move out, but she can’t afford to get a home. The NDP in their platform has support for first time home buyers, a 10 per cent aid with the down payment of the home. I’m really excited the NDP would bring in $10 a day childcare. I also firmly believe that dental care and mental health care should be included in the government funded healthcare. That will make a difference in the pocketbooks of Nepeanites.
Q: Despite us all wishing it was fully gone, COVID-19 is still around; we are still in a pandemic. What would you like to see done from here to ensure Ontarians stay safe with whatever could come next?
A: It’s important to realize that 12,000 people died during the pandemic in Ontario, 4,000 of them in long term care. What the pandemic showed is we have not been investing in our social safety net, and indeed we were actually cutting. What I’d like to see moving forward is investing in health care, in long term care, and in education. I also think it would be important to learn what went wrong; There should be a public inquiry.
Q: Barrhaven has seen its fake share of overcrowding in schools. Portable classrooms are constantly being added, and new schools are being funded regularly. What should be done to help this?
A: I think it’s really important to invest in education, and the NDP is planning to do that. We want to hire 20,000 more teachers and educational assistants. Another important area is investing in repairs of schools, because there is currently a backlog of repairs. We also need to invest in an Indigenous curriculum. My day job has been working for the Federal Government at Indigenous Services Canada. I’m really excited by the platform commitment to increase Indigenous curriculum at Ontario High Schools.