Writs of Election expected today, marking the official start of the campaign
As the June 7 provincial election draws near and voters in Huntsville, Lake of Bays and surrounding communities prepare to head to the polls, Doppler invited the candidates to tell us a bit about themselves and why they’re running. Here’s what they had to say:
Incumbent Progressive Conservative MPP for Parry Sound- Muskoka, Norm Miller: As someone who grew up in Parry Sound-Muskoka, ran a business here for 30 years and raised my family here, I understand the needs and aspirations of the people here and the challenges they face.
I respect the people of Parry Sound-Muskoka and know that they make the best decisions for themselves, their families and their communities. I respect their tax dollars and I want to make sure we get as much value as possible for every dollar government spends. I don’t think it is fair that our government is running up the debt and expecting our children and grandchildren to pay it off.
I have a record of standing up for Parry Sound-Muskoka to make sure government understands how policies are impacting people of our region. I was vocal about saving rural schools and changing the review process used to determine if a school would close. My caucus colleagues and I succeeded in forcing a moratorium on school closures and having the government take the economic and social impact on the community into account when making those decisions.
We face a similar battle with the funding of medium-sized hospitals like Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare and I have been fighting to improve funding and to maintain both the Huntsville Memorial and South Muskoka Memorial Hospitals.
I respect MPPs on both sides of the Legislature, which allows me to work with government regardless of which side of the Legislature I am sitting on. I have been successful in getting projects approved for Parry Sound-Muskoka from the opposition benches.
Living in beautiful Parry Sound-Muskoka, I care about our environment and I have introduced a number of Private Members’ Bills related to environmental protection and waste diversion. These include the first bill to create a deposit return system for LCBO bottles, a bill to make producers responsible for the waste created by their products and packaging, and a bill to require single-use coffee pods sold in Ontario to be certified compostable.
It has been an honour to represent the people of Parry Sound-Muskoka for the past 17 years. I am asking for your support in this election to try to bring responsibility and accountability back to government, to ensure our government will be able to continue to provide the services we all rely upon and to make sure that the views of Parry Sound-Muskoka are heard when policy decisions are made at Queen’s Park.
Miller’s Muskoka campaign office is at 345 Ecclestone Drive, Unit 15, Bracebridge.
Although not official, she is running uncontested and is expected to be officially nominated on May 12. NDP candidate Erin Horvath: Greetings Parry Sound-Muskoka! I’ve been an entrepreneur and community development leader for over twenty years. A big part of my success comes from my ability to see strengths and challenges within communities and collaborate to address those needs in innovative ways. Through New Vision Unlimited, I’ve worked with multiple levels of community and government on initiatives related to health care, mental health, addictions, poverty, homelessness, entrepreneurship, First Nations rights, and land use planning. I advocate and secure funding while working at the grassroots to implement change. This has given me detailed knowledge on a range of issues, understanding of how different sectors intersect, and lots of practice advocating for rural and First Nations communities!
When my family moved to Huntsville we considered the needs of the area and how we fit in. Within the tourist-based economy we noticed a shortage of high-paying, full-time jobs and large seasonal fluctuations in the income businesses made. We saw people, especially youth, leaving as they struggled to find work and housing. We noticed how this impacted business’ ability to attract and retain employees. At the same time my husband, who is a Child and Youth Psychotherapist, was struggling to find a suitable place for his practice.
Our solution was to start The HUB Muskoka, a co-working centre where entrepreneurs have affordable space to work and counsellors can rent space by the hour, enabling private practitioners to reduce their fees and relieve some the backlog within the provincial system. Two years later we have over 135 members representing 85 businesses and organizations. These entrepreneurs are beginning to collaborate to address complex issues facing this region such as housing shortages, youth out-migration, and poverty. This example shows how I combine advocacy with action.
I believe it’s time for a new vision for the region, one that puts quality of life for residents in Parry Sound-Muskoka first while welcoming visitors to share in our abundance. The NDP offers a strong platform that supports rural Ontario and the needs of our region. It calls for efficiency while investing in services that support an aging population, local hospitals and rural health care centres, youth mental health, affordable housing and childcare, and opioid addiction services. I am happy for the opportunity to give voice to the needs of Parry Sound-Muskoka and, if elected, use my advocacy and community development skills to improve quality of life for residents.
Horvath’s campaign office is at 230 Manitoba St. (second floor), Bracebridge.
Liberal candidate Brenda Rhodes: Why am I running? Because I believe passionately in engaging businesses in ways that grow their revenues alongside bettering the lives of community members. My passion for Muskoka and my proven professionalism in working with all levels of government, the business community, community stakeholders, organizations, and general public, will ensure that Parry Sound-Muskoka is not left behind and will instead flourish under me. The Ontario Liberals fundamentally believe in their plan to create fairness and opportunity for all people in Ontario. During this period of rapid economic change, Parry Sound-Muskoka needs a collaborator with a strong voice, and these are exactly the attributes I will take with me to Queen’s Park.
Since January, 2015, I have worked as the Executive Director of the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce and acting Executive Director to the Port Sydney/Utterson and Surrounding Area Chamber of Commerce, where I have had the privilege of working with business owners, staff, community stakeholders and other community organizations throughout Muskoka to promote and advocate for a more prosperous Muskoka.
I also had the opportunity to sit as an Advisor on the Bridges Out of Poverty committee through the YWCA, and on the Muskoka Tourism Marketing Agency Board. I am also a business Mentor through Muskoka Futures and a Board Member for the Rotary Club of Bracebridge. As an athlete I have been on the Women’s Baseball League on and off for 20 years. Whether I am a spectator or player I can’t help but give it my full attention and it shows through my enthusiasm. To keep myself balanced, and slow me down, I took up meditation years ago and have found cooking a way to express myself.
I am proud to call Huntsville my home where I live with my partner Peter. As an outdoor enthusiast I enjoy the natural beauty here in Parry Sound-Muskoka and I will fiercely protect this landscape.
Above all else, I believe that our next MPP should bring a strong voice to Queen’s Park, be invested in making our community as great a place as it can be and be involved with all the people of Parry Sound-Muskoka. And that is exactly what I will do as your next Member of Provincial Parliament.
Rhodes’ campaign office is at 111 Manitoba Street, Bracebridge.
And last (alphabetically only) but not least, Green Party candidate Matt Richter: I’m Matt Richter, Green Party of Ontario candidate for Parry Sound-Muskoka. The 2018 Ontario election represents my fourth time running for our riding in Provincial politics. Our family resides in Port Sydney where I own and operate a small food production business. Additionally, I have been a teacher within the Trillium Lakelands District School Board since 1998.
As always it is a privilege and an honour to run in politics for Parry Sound-Muskoka. Under the Green Party of Ontario I am deeply committed to doing politics differently. I refuse to play the self-serving partisan games seen far too often within the other parties. Instead, I will focus on championing good public policy by working across party lines and in collaboration with all stakeholders. I’m proud of the achievements that the GPO have achieved working with other parties in Provincial. Despite not having a seat in Queen’s Park, we are acknowledged as being the driving force behind bringing the other three parties leaders together to get big money out of politics. Since last year, we should all be proud that union and corporate donations to political parties are now banned in Ontario.
When I entered my first election in 2007, the main issues facing the people of Parry Sound-Muskoka revolved around the following: uncertainty of our local health care system; unaffordable price of electricity; lack of affordable housing; an unsustainable debt; and an education system desperate for appropriate resources and infrastructure. Here we are, 11 years later, and while meeting with people across our riding, it is very apparent that there is a great deal of frustration that these issues remain. Evidently, the old way of doing politics isn’t meeting the needs of our people.
By staying involved in politics between the past election cycles and bringing forth policies that are based on proven data and best practices, I am confident that I can be a genuine advocate for our riding, an MPP that moves forward with change powered by the people. Doing politics with honesty and integrity, and with the courage to always be upfront with the public as to how a proposal or a promise can be financed and implemented. Not only do the voters expect this way of doing politics, they deserve it.
Richter’s campaign office is at 36 Main Street E, Huntsville.
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