Doug Ford

PC’s finish second locally, first provincially

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

Last Thursday was a boil of mixed emotions for members of Chris Lewis’ Progressive Conservative campaign.

The Essex candidate lost the riding to incumbent Taras Natyshak, a New Democrat, by more than 3,300 votes.  The PCs did, however, score the premiership.  Designate Doug Ford took the reigns from Liberal Kathleen Wynne with a majority government behind him.

The Liberals, in the end, only earned seven seats, one shy of the requirement for holding onto their official party status.

“Ontario is finally back on track,” Lewis exclaimed as the last of the night’s results flashed across his office’s election livestream.

Essex PC candidate Chris Lewis (left) thanks his campaign manager, Barry Wilson, for his work on the campaign trail. Lewis lost the riding to NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak, but he nonetheless expressed appreciation for his team’s efforts.

Dozens of his supporters crowded around him as he spoke.  He thanked a few of them by name – Barry Wilson, his campaign manager, for one – but then addressed the group as a whole.

“I know you all worked very hard and this was not the result you wanted,” he said.  “But I’m okay with it.”

“I’m bitter,” said Wilson.  “Bitter in the sense that the people here, in the Essex riding, decided to stay with the incumbent.  I am happy that the province overwhelmingly decided to move into a new direction.”

The Grits lost the province with their lowest-ever share of the popular vote; just over 19 per cent according to the unofficial count.  Their loss marks the end of nearly 15 years of Liberal power in Ontario.

Preliminary numbers show that locally, the number of voters who chose Conservative on their ballots has more than doubled since 2014.  The Liberals lost more than half their supporters.  Still, that Tory leap wasn’t enough to land Lewis in the legislature.

“Obviously, I fell a little bit shy in my numbers,” Lewis said.  “But the important thing is that the province is blue.”

Essex PC MPP candidate Chris Lewis addresses a throng of his supporters at his Kingsville campaign offices on Thursday, June 7, 2018. Lewis lost his riding, but his party snagged the premiership. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

One of the major campaign issues for the area was the development of Highway 3 – an issue that Doug Ford addressed during a visit to Kingsville in May.  The designate promised to twin the highway pending input from local MPPs.  Lewis said he’s “sure” Ford will make it happen.

“Doug Ford is a man of his word,” Lewis said.  “I believe he’s going to get it done.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the right to call him tomorrow morning to say, ‘Let’s get it done, please.’  Hopefully Taras Natyshak can bring it up to the legislature.”

Lewis isn’t giving up hope that he’ll one day be able to call up the Premier to discuss his riding’s concerns himself.  He’s not holding his breath either, though.

“There’s no telling what the future will one day hold,” he said.

Natyshak re-elected in Essex riding

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Taras Natyshak is heading back to the Legislature and this time, he’ll have to deal with a Progressive Conservative government.

The NDP incumbent retained his seat in Thursday’s provincial election, winning the Essex riding for the third time after also winning in 2011 and 2014. Natyshak’s closest challenger was Chris Lewis, with the PC candidate finishing 3,323 votes behind Natyshak.

NDP candidate Taras Natyshak will return as Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Essex after defeating three challengers June 7. He raises the arms of his wife Jennifer and his son Drake after entering Royal Canadian Legion Br. 399 in Belle River Thursday night.

Unofficial results show the NDP candidate had 26,054 votes (48.53 per cent of the vote) with Lewis having 22,731 votes (42.34 per cent). Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga captured 3,053 votes (5.69 per cent) and Green Party candidate Nancy Pancheshan had 1,853 votes (3.45 per cent).

Natyshak thanked his campaign team, his supporters and said he comes from a long line of “great MPP’s” the area, has had, listing the “ultimate gentleman” Bruce Crozier and his mentor Pat Hayes among them.

“It will be an honour to serve this region again in the provincial legislature,” said Natyshak.

The election of a Progressive Conservative majority government, under Premier-designate Doug Ford, was not the expected result, Natyshak admitted.

Taras Natyshak smiles as he delivers his victory speech Thursday night, June 7. Natyshak and his local NDP colleagues Lisa Gretzky and Percy Hatfield were re-elected but so was a Progressive Conservative majority province-wide.

“The results are a little disappointing,” he said, during his victory party at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 399 in Belle River. “We will hold this government accountable every day.”

Natyshak added that “we had hoped for better results” and acknowledged the Greater Toronto Area is the “key for electoral success.” He said the hope was the Liberals who were “abandoned” after outgoing premier Kathleen Wynne would support the New Democrats.

The NDP will be “strong opposition” in the Legislature, Natyshak pledged, as they will have a larger caucus and a “larger voice.”

“We don’t know where the province is going to go,” he said, stating there were only “vague details” in the PC platform. “It is going to be a new reality that we’re going to have to come to terms with, but New Democrats are prepared for it. I’m prepared for it.”

Key issues in the riding include continuing the expansion of Highway 3 and the new mega-hospital. Natyshak said promises were made during the campaign and he will continue to press for both items.

“We’re going to hold them to both commitments,” said Natyshak. “They have to happen immediately. There is no time for debate. If we don’t see them act with the urgency that we deserve, then we’ll see if their word is worth anything.”

NDP candidate Taras Natyshak cuts the cake after his victory in the Essex riding in the June 7 provincial election. It will be his third term as Essex MPP, as he also won in 2011 and 2014.

Natyshak, who was the labour critic in the last government, said his role will be whatever his constituents believe his role should be. He said he knew it would be a tight race and that his campaign team spread out their resources across the Essex riding. He also praised Lewis, Festeryga, Pancheshan and their teams for their efforts throughout the provincial election campaign.

Voter turnout in the riding of Essex was just shy of 58 per cent.

NDP incumbents Percy Hatfield and Lisa Gretzky won their respective ridings – Windsor-Tecumseh and Windsor West – while PC candidate Rick Nicholls won re-election in Chatham-Kent-Leamington.

Local candidates staying busy as June 7 provincial election approaches

 

By Bryan Jessop & Ron Giofu

 

The Ontario election is June 7 and the Essex PC candidate was bolstered by a visit from his leader.

The riding’s Liberal candidate took aim at PC leader Doug Ford after his visit while the NDP incumbent scored an endorsement last week at a separate event.

After arriving in Woodslee during the morning last Wednesday, Ford spent the early afternoon at Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens to share his thoughts and his party’s platform objectives. There, he was welcomed by supporters who greeted him at the facility’s main dining area.

Ford was joined by campaign support staff as well as PC candidates for local ridings including Adam Ibrahim for Windsor West, Mohammad Latif for Windsor Tecumseh, incumbent Rick Nicholls for Chatham-Kent Leamington and the event’s emcee, Essex PC candidate Chris Lewis.

Setting his sights on both Liberal and NDP opponents, Ford declared that if elected, sweeping changes would be instilled by his government from Queen’s Park in Toronto across the province of Ontario.

“On June the 7th, we will send the Liberals packing,” Ford declared. “We’re going to make sure there’s accountability, transparency and integrity when it comes to the taxpayers of this great province.”

The party’s leader explained that one of the Progressive Conservatives’ initial priorities would be to conduct an item-by-item audit to discover “whose been getting rich off (their) money.” Ford noted that addressing “out of control” hydro rates in Ontario would be a concern at the top of the party’s to do list.

“The Six Million Dollar Man will not be the Six Million Dollar man as of June the 7th,” Ford said in reference to Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt’s salary compensation of $6.2 million for 2017. “We’ll make sure that we reduce the hydro rates right away by 12 per cent to each and every single person here, making sure we put money back into your pocket instead of the government’s pocket. It’s unacceptable that we have the highest hydro rates in North America.”

The PC leader also vowed to reduce taxes for middle income families by 20 per cent. Pointing out that small business employs 85 per cent of Ontario’s workforce, Ford also announced that tax reductions of 8.75 per cent would be earmarked for small- and medium-sized businesses.

“They’ve been getting gouged by this government,” Ford said of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

Next, Ford brought up the matter of health care, explaining that wait lines in Ontario hospitals range from four hours to as many as 12 hours. He committed to creating 15,000 new long term care beds across the province over the next five years and an additional 15,000 new long term care beds over the five years following that time frame. Ford noted that there are 32,000 seniors in the province waiting for long term care beds, which he described as “staggering numbers.” Another $1.9 billion over 10 years will be directed towards mental illness, addiction care and housing under PC leadership, the party leader explained. He also committed to the support of 100,000 low-income seniors who cannot afford proper dental care.

Ontario PC leader Doug Ford (left) and Essex
candidate Chris Lewis (foreground) pose with
constituents when Ford visited Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens May 23.

Also, Ford declared that $100 million would be set aside for broadband and cellular communications in addition to natural gas expansion in rural areas.

Kate Festeryga, the Liberal candidate in the Essex riding, said her party has spent millions investing in the area.

““It’s too bad that Doug Ford only spent a couple of hours here in Essex. This riding is home to some of the best businesses in Ontario. Businesses that have been able to scale up and add more jobs in these communities thanks to the investments made by the Liberals,” she said.

Those include $1 billion for Ford, $85.8 million for Fiat Chrysler among others, with Festeryga also listing other businesses she said the Liberals have supported including Amherstburg businesses Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery and Belwood Poultry. Others she included in a press release were Electromac Group, Lakeside Plastics, Ventra Group Essex, Integrity Tool & Mold, Windsor Mold, Astrex Inc., Nemak, CAPSCanada Corp. Erie Shores Growers, Pelee Island Winery, Oxley Estate Winery, Serenity Lavender Farms Inc., Redoe Mold Company, Essex Weld Solutions, Agriculture Technology Inc. and ARRRC International Inc.

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Taras Natyshak picked an endorsement of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) last Saturday. Natyshak was among the local NDP candidates to get the endorsement.

“OSSTF/FEESO members are excited to see the significant alignment between our vision for publicly funded education in Ontario, as found in our education platform, and the priorities identified in the NDP election platform,” said OSSTF president Harvey Bischof. “I’m proud to stand here today and urge OSSTF/FEESO members in District 9 to support Lisa Gretzky, Percy Hatfield, Taras Natyshak and Jordan McGrail on June 7.”

OSSTF/FEESO District 9 president Erin Roy also endorsed all four local NDP candidates.

“As incumbent MPP’s, Taras Natyshak, Percy Hatfield and Lisa Gretzky have been tireless advocates for their constituents and we believe that Jordan McGrail is ready to do the same in Chatham-Kent-Leamington,” said Roy. “We need MPP’s who are vocal supporters of a strong public education system that all Ontarians can rely on and we are confident our members will support Lisa, Percy, Taras and Jordan on election day.”

Chris Lewis to represent Progressive Conservatives in June 7 provincial election

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Progressive Conservative Party has its candidate for the June 7 provincial election.

Kingsville resident Chris Lewis has been acclaimed as the PC candidate and will try to wrest the seat from current Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, who is running again as the New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate.

“I am honoured, humbled and excited to carry the Progressive Conservative flag for the riding of Essex. Throughout the riding of Essex, I continue to hear that people desperately want change, lower taxes and a champion to finally complete the widening of Highway #3. I am ready to go to work when elected June 7,” said Lewis.

Lewis is a former member of Kingsville town council and a firefighter.

“Nothing inspires me more, and excites me than the pursuit of this MPP seat

for the PC party!” said Lewis. “I love this corner of Canada, and I strongly feel like it’s a ‘calling’ to represent this area I call home, at the leadership level.”

Lewis added that “I have three beautiful children, a lovely wife, great family and friends and I’m deeply committed to the residents of Essex for their long-term health, prosperity and happiness!”

Stating that “the riding of Essex is a great place to live and grow,” Lewis said he cares about its long-term viability as a sustainable region.

“I have always been committed to leaving the world a better place than I found it,” he said. “You know, someone once said that Essex County is like a microcosm of all of Canada! How’s this you may ask? We have fisheries, unsurpassed agriculture and food processing industry, mining, high technology and award-winning manufacturing, international trade, cutting edge research facilities, cultural diversity, world-class education and the list just goes on and on!”

Lewis believes “enough is enough” and “it’s time to respect the taxpayer and put their interests first!”

“I am an extremely good listener and I do not believe in putting a politician into an area they don’t know anything about!” he said. “The riding of Essex needs some real political traction and I intend to provide it! We need PC troops to fight this battle!”

Adding he is “very approachable,” Lewis added he is “extremely committed” to solving people’s problems “and, boy, do we have some major problems to fix.”

“I am a home-grown, longtime Kingsville resident, so being local, I have a thorough knowledge of what, we, in this area, need fixed! Ontario varies widely, and what North Bay needs is vastly different from our needs!” he said. “I am relatively young (41) and brimming with energy! I pay a great deal of value and credence to our young adults who often get side-tracked in the political arena.. Nothing inspires me more than the talents, energies and aspirations of our young adults.”

According to Lewis, Ontario’s debt is over $311 billion and the cost to service it is over $12 billion per year.

Chris Lewis will represent the Progressive Conservatives in the provincial election June 7. (Submitted photo)

“We will balance the budget!” he vowed. “Our kids should not have to pay for Kathleen Wynne’s blunders. It’s time to balance the budget and respect the taxpayers. The party is over. It’s all about the grassroots having a voice.”

Over 300,000 jobs have been lost in Ontario, said Lewis, and believed there is too much red tape, energy costs that are too high, and too much taxation including carbon and corporate taxes.

“We have the best minds, expertise and entrepreneurs, but we need the opportunities to use them,” said Lewis.

Lewis said health care needs improvement and that “patients are waiting in hallways and broom closets for health care!” He said the health care system is “broken” and said the PC party will listen to front line workers. The expansion of Highway 3 is another issue and accused the current Liberal government of sitting on their hands too long “at the risk of residents.”

The PC’s will review existing education curriculums “line-by-line” and amend it where necessary, he said.

Lewis said he will, if elected, give Essex “a voice for real representation” at Queen’s Park, provide a solid job friendly environment, reduce taxes, foster a safe living environment and “re-establish ourselves as a democracy.” He added he will be an advocate for the environment and work with municipal leaders to help resolve flooding issues.

“The PC party inherently understands the very grass root issues that taxpayers are facing. We understand that each region has unique needs, and we will work tirelessly across the province to ensure that these needs are addressed quickly and responsibly,” said Lewis. “Specific to our region, Ontario will not stop in London any longer under a PC Government. Essex will once again have a voice at the table to ensure much needed funding for our projects such as the widening of Highway 3. Families, businesses, young adults and seniors will once again be proud to be Ontarians and have access to an honest, transparent and responsible government.”

Lewis said he is “humble beyond belief by the outpouring of support” he has been receiving.

“Rest assured, this is not about Chris Lewis, it is about the electorate desperately wanting action and change, demanding the cost of living be lowered. The winds of change across Essex and Ontario are strong. I have had many folks tell me that they have voted a certain way for a long time, but this election they will be voting PC, as they know that it is vital to have a voice, a much-needed seat at the table with the government in power.”

Ontario PC leader Doug Ford also issued a statement where he congratulated Lewis for being the Progressive Conservative candidate for the Essex riding.

“I congratulate Chris‎ on his nomination as the Ontario PC candidate for Essex,” Ford said in a statement. “Chris is a great addition to our Ontario PC team. As an entrepreneur, business owner and a long-time resident of Kingsville, Chris has always been engaged in his community. He has a passion for community service, and always puts his community first.”

The only other known candidate for the Essex riding as of press time is Tyler Cook of the Libertarian Party.