federal election

Federal Conservative candidate holds meet and greet with local supporters



By Ron Giofu


The federal Conservative candidate is a familiar face for those who followed the provincial election earlier this year but he took the opportunity to meet some of his supporters again recently.

Chris Lewis, who finished 2,711 votes behind NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak in June’s provincial election, has now secured the federal nomination in the Essex riding and will challenge another NDP incumbent – Tracey Ramsey – in next year’s national election. Lewis held a meet and greet at Sanson Estate Winery in McGregor where he met with supporters and sought donations for the upcoming election campaign.

“It’s going fantastic, full of energy,” Lewis said of his campaign thus far. “There are so many people saying now is the time for change.”

Essex Conservative candidate Chris Lewis met with local supporters recently at Sanson Estate Winery in McGregor.

Lewis said it is now “all about jobs,” particularly since General Motors will be pulling 2,500 jobs out of Oshawa. He stated diversification has to be looked at and Canada has to “open the market for new business.”

“Getting rid of the carbon tax is important to us,” he said.

Working together and building bridges is key to moving forward in the future, Lewis added.

Believing that the Conservatives are “worth another look,” Lewis said that local members of the party call former Essex MP Jeff Watson the “$2 billion dollar man” for investments he brought to this area.

“Unless you have a voice in government, you won’t really have a say,” he said, optimistic about Andrew Scheer’s chances of forming a government after the 2019 federal election.

The name recognition Lewis gained during the provincial campaign is something he believes gives him a head start in his federal campaign. He plans on knocking on as many doors as possible to promote Scheer’s vision, which is to put Canada “back on the map” globally.

Lewis added that while he wants to engage seniors and today’s adults, he also wants to engage youth.

“I’m doing this for our future,” he said.

Telling supporters he is “so proud of our team,” Lewis added “I wouldn’t want to be the NDP, I wouldn’t want to be Tracey,” though added he doesn’t plan to run a smear campaign.

“It’s not the way God made us,” he explained.

Calling Scheer “a very fantastic man” and a “dynamite leader,” Lewis said he was proud to carry the banner for him in Essex.

“We can win this,” he told his supporters. “We can make Essex blue again. We can make the Watson family proud again.”


Federal Essex candidates continue on the campaign trail

By Ron Giofu


Candidates in the Essex riding continue on the campaign trail with one of them coming to Co-An Park in McGregor.

Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga was on hand with several of her supporters recently distributing frozen yogurt from Nuccelli’s to voters as well as talking issues. Festeryga said she is hearing a lot of good response on Liberal policy proposals, including recently announced proposals such as flexible parental EI insurance, Canada child benefit and the flexible working arrangements in federal jurisdictions.

Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga distributes frozen yogurt to Mark and Katelyn Bovenkamp during a recent campaign stop at Co-An Park in McGregor.

Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga distributes frozen yogurt to Mark and Katelyn Bovenkamp during a recent campaign stop at Co-An Park in McGregor.

As part of their platform, the Liberals have also been touting increasing infrastructure funding by $60 billion over ten years. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has also vowed to repeal Bill C-24 and cut the middle class tax rate.

“We are knocking on doors and people are very receptive,” said Festeryga. “We’re getting a lot of people asking for signs.”

Festeryga pledged to fight for the people of Essex, if elected Oct. 19, and used a theme that is becoming common in this campaign about what people are wanting.

“I am hearing it’s definitely time for change,” she said.

Noting her background as a lawyer, the Liberal candidate added she has experience in both negotiations of multi-million dollar deals as well as labour relations thus is qualified for the job as Member of Parliament and wouldn’t have to learn on the fly.

“I can hit the ground running,” she said. “People understand that when I get to their door.”

Festeryga added voters are seeing that she is willing to work hard as she is campaigning daily in the riding. She has also been holding meet-and-greets around the area and has appeared at several festivals in the region.

“The voters are seeing I’m working hard and I’m working hard for them,” she said, adding she is hopeful Trudeau will visit Essex at some point this election campaign.

NDP candidate Tracey Ramsey reported that her campaign is “going very strong” and that she believes people are willing to shift the way they vote and go with Tom Mulcair and the NDP.

“The momentum is building and building. It’s getting stronger as we go along, which is so positive,” said Ramsey. “I think there is a deep desire for change. People are excited about going in a different direction and that means the NDP in Essex.”

Jobs continue to be an issue, she added, stating the NDP has a “clear” plan to create jobs by cutting taxes for small and medium-sized businesses. She said she has been hearing people are opposed to a $36 billion cut in health care transfer payments to provinces, something she said the Conservatives favour. The ongoing Mike Duffy trial has also having an impact locally, added Ramsey.

“It’s tough to escape from and people are tired of corruption in the government,” she said.

Treatment of veterans is another issue Ramsey said she is hearing as she accused incumbent MP Jeff Watson of having a “lack of commitment” and an inability “to stand up and fight for the people who fought for our country.” The NDP would reopen veterans affairs offices in Canada, she added.

People are coming to her campaign office and asking how they can help, Ramsey continued, and that there is an excitement in the riding for her campaign.

“More and more Canadians are putting their trust in Tom Mulcair and in Essex, we want to bring that change to Ottawa,” said Ramsey. “It’s very exciting for the NDP in Essex.”

Ramsey has been campaigning with Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Ramsey said the provincial member is “doing a fantastic job standing up for the people in Essex” and that is being seen at the door.

“The difference is the NDP cares about the people in Essex and is helping them,” she said.

Watson, the Conservative candidate who has served the last 11 years as Essex MP, said his campaign is going well.

“The longer campaign is giving us far more opportunity to engage people at the door. More conversations are a good thing,” said Watson.

The longer campaign allows voters to become better informed, he believed, and allows candidates a chance to be more accountable. He speaks to voters about his record, he said, with the record including delivering billions to the area including “tens of millions” in Amherstburg for such projects as the wastewater treatment plant, the Libro Centre, and road rehabilitations.

The campaign is also about which leader has the experience to keep the country safe and the economy growing.

“The NDP and Liberals promise risk, not change.”

Watson said the Liberals and NDP both feel Canada has “no role to play” in combating ISIS and would bring in higher taxes that could potentially drive out jobs.

Canada has a balanced budget, said Watson, adding “there is no other major economy in the world that can boast that.”

The Conservatives have a “low tax approach,” and has an “enviable” record of job creation. Canada has created 1.3 million new jobs since the last recession, he said. Farmers have experienced the best years of revenue the last two years, low income seniors have been assisted. On the environment, local accomplishments include establishing a priority natural area in Essex County. A permanent home tax credit and improving benefits for veterans are among the planks of the party platform, he added.

Watson, who is adopted, said he has championed the issue in Ottawa starting with a motion in 2008, a report on the motion in 2012 and three straight federal budgets assisting families.

“All of these areas are to help Canadians step forward and adopt the 30,000 Canadian children waiting for adoption,” he said.

Watson said he has stood strong for Essex.

“Windsor, with two NDP MPs, has a loud voice but has delivered zero results,” he said. “I’ve had a credible and influential voice that has delivered billions to Essex County. Essex County has, in me, a strong and influential voice in Ottawa.”

New Democrats acclaim their candidate for federal election


Tracey Ramsey (centre) was acclaimed Sunday afternoon as the Essex riding’s NDP candidate for the next federal election. She is flanked by Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.

Tracey Ramsey (centre) was acclaimed Sunday afternoon as the Essex riding’s NDP candidate for the next federal election. She is flanked by Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.

By Ron Giofu


The NDP has its candidate for this year’s federal election.

Tracey Ramsey was acclaimed as the party’s candidate for the Essex riding at a nomination meeting held Sunday afternoon. She said she decided to run because she has seen a lot of jobs leave the area and she wants to “take back” the county.

A 19-year veteran of the Ford Motor Company, Ramsey called it “an easy decision to run” and said she has seen the impact of job loss in the area. She said she is a “grassroots activist” who fights for the working class and better jobs, noting she is involved with Unifor Local 200 and has served on a number of committees including those dealing with human rights and women’s rights.

Ramsey feels one of her strengths is connecting with people and said she differs from incumbent MP, Conservative Jeff Watson, in that she would do a better job taking care of citizens, small businesses and the agriculture industry.

“I would do the job,” she said.

The time for change is here, Ramsey added, feeling she is the person to do it. Each municipality in the riding has its own needs and she said she plans on finding out what each area cares about.

“We need someone in this area who cares for people and I promise you that’s me,” she told local party members. “I’m here to kick some ass.”

Parkdale-High Park MP and NDP critic for industry Peggy Nash said she was pleased to see “a sister from Unifor get the nomination in Essex,” adding that she saw a similar trajectory in Ramsey that she experienced herself.

“I developed leadership opportunities in the union that helped in the political realm,” said Nash.

Nash stated there is still a lot of inequality in Canada and told the NDP supporters in the room that “personal debt levels in this country are at an all-time high.” There is a need for better paying jobs and more respect for veterans, she said, with retirement security and health care also touched on. Nash said the NDP would fully fund health care and not slice $36 billion from it, as she said the Conservatives have done.

“I think it’s an exciting time for Essex County and it’s an exciting time for Canada,” said Nash. “2015 is an opportunity to really make change in this country and elect a government that’s by the people and for the people.”

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, who was the local NDP candidate in the last three federal elections, called Ramsey “an awesome candidate” and said she will “fight for regular, main street Canadians.”

Natyshak, who spent a good portion of his address trying to drum up financial support, said the NDP has to be ready locally but was confident it would be.

The Liberal candidate for Essex is Audrey Festeryga.