Back to the polls!
Well, at least for Kitchener Centre residents
On October 27th, the PCs announced their candidate for the Kitchener Centre byelection (which I have previously written about here). On the following Wednesday, that byelection was officially called. Interesting side note: Under the Election Act, elections must be called on a Wednesday and held the fifth Thursday after the date of the issue of the writ, which means election day is November 30th.
I know many readers want to learn a bit about the candidates, so here’s what I have found out so far. I have included (when I could find it), each candidate’s website, platform or priorities, a social media link, and quotes. You’ll also find information on where and when to vote, and if you stick around to the end of this post, you’ll see who I am voting for and why.
The candidates (in alphabetical order):
Quotes: (Why are you running?) “Never did I aspire to be an MPP but I just feel I could be more useful sitting at Queen’s Park with the official opposition, rather than sitting here in Kitchener and feeling muted.”
(What are your priorities?) “Affordable housing is a big issue for me. There are so many things we can do to bring that housing stock back, by bringing in rent controls on all houses across the spectrum, also bringing in reno-viction legislature that would make it more difficult for landlords to reno-vict people.”
Quotes: (Why are you running?) “I think the old line parties have had a lot of time and they’re struggling in different ways. I think that people see that Greens bring hope, they bring positive solutions. We’re here to bring connection and caring to politics.”
(What are you focusing on?) “I’ve done a lot of work looking into our housing issues locally, supporting people who are facing reno-viction and eviction, fighting homelessness, and really sticking up against these systemic issues.”
Quotes: Non-existent. This is an example Rob’s ‘response’ to many media requests: “CTV News has reached out to Rob Elliott with an interview request but have not yet received a response.”
Quotes: (Why are you running?) “I have had the privilege of serving the City of Kitchener for well over 21 years and I have been so proud to be able to connect with residents. It made sense for me to take my leadership skills, my community experience skills, and my passion to serve to the next level.”
A few things worth noting:
You can vote by mail, in an advance poll, at the Returning Office (now until Nov. 29th), or on Election Day
If voting by mail, you must register ASAP
Advance polls are offered November 22nd-24th, 10:00am - 8:00pm
If you’re voting on election day, click to find your voting location
There are actually 18 people running in this election. I have focused on the main four parties, but you can see the full candidate list here. That number is the highest number of candidates on a ballot for a provincial election!
My two cents
First off, a caveat of sorts. I am not a ‘political party’ person. I have voted for three of the four main parties at some point in my voting history. I think there is value in understanding what each of the parties stand for, of course, but when it comes down to it, I always end up choosing the person I want, not the party. With that lens, here are my thoughts.
For me, this byelection really comes down to two people, Clancy and Chapman. I have met Kelly Steiss and I think she is doing important work in the community but I see Debbie or Aislinn as a better option for our next MPP. Rob Elliott lives over 100km away in Keswick and doesn’t seem like a serious contender in any way. As former Liberal MPP, John Milloy stated, “The idea of having someone from outside the region run is really problematic. How do you understand the concerns of the area?” (And honestly, I’m at a loss as to why folks would want to support Doug Ford’s PCs by adding another PC representative at Queen’s Park right now - which may be why we have a candidate dropped in from Keswick.)
That leaves my options as Debbie Chapman (NDP) or Aislinn Clancy (Greens). These are also the only two candidates (or their teams) that have knocked on my door to date. I had a chance to chat with Aislinn at the door, but missed Debbie/the NDP team.
Before I share where I landed, I want to address one issue I have heard from some folks about the fact that we have two city councillors running for MPP. It seems some fear that one or both of these candidates don’t truly care about their community, and are instead only interested in a more prestigious position as soon as it presented itself. I disagree. I know both Debbie and Aislinn care deeply about this city and they are looking at how best to serve it. I also think political office is a tough gig, and research shows that’s especially true for women. I applaud anyone who is willing to put their name forth and then to do the hard work of supporting their community, whether that’s on a local council, at Queen’s Park, or Parliament Hill.
When considering who to vote for at the provincial level, four main issues come to mind for me: health care, transit, education, and housing. From what I can tell, both Clancy and Chapman would advocate for improved health care and moving away from private ‘partners’. Both support two-way, all-day GO transit as well. So, there was no obvious frontrunner to me on those two issues. However, on education and housing there is.
As an educator myself, I am extremely interested in improving our education system and Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce do not represent my vision for that in any way. Aislinn Clancy has direct experience in the education system as a school social worker and I believe that experience will be a real asset for our next MPP.
Housing, of course, is a very important issue to me. With both Chapman and Clancy as city councillors, we have a unique opportunity to see how they have voted on housing issues. Contrary to what some believe, Chapman doesn’t oppose every housing development that comes to council. However, she has criticized and/or opposed many developments, several of which I believe would have been great additions to any neighbourhood and desperately needed. I was particularly disappointed by her comments and/or votes on the Mill St. proposal and the Belmont Village development. How do I vote for a representative who has opposed the kind of housing I currently live in, and think we need more of? Lastly, as someone who believes that we need more housing of all kinds, I was really discouraged that Chapman was supportive of a moratorium on all downtown development.
Now, Clancy has opposed some housing developments as well (though to a much lesser degree than Chapman). What I have noticed with Clancy though is a willingness to converse with those who see things differently and learn from those conversations. She proactively seeks out information from those involved in housing issues. I have seen her thinking shift even in the short time she has been on council. Additionally, Guelph Green MPP Mike Schreiner has been a positive influence in this area. I think Schreiner and Clancy would work well together at Queen’s Park on housing issues.
So, there you have it. I’m throwing my support behind Aislinn Clancy this election. I think her experience in schools, her approach to seeking out information and perspectives that may differ from her own, and her ability to collaborate with others will serve her well as our next MPP.
My biggest fear though, is that we split the vote between Debbie and Aislinn and end up with a PC candidate who lives nowhere near the riding.
I’d love to hear what the main issues are for you in this election. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. The interesting thing, of course, is that if either Debbie or Aislinn win, we will be left with an empty council seat on Kitchener council - which will likely mean…you guessed it, another byelection!
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