NDP

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.

Provincial candidates face off in debate

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Candidates in the riding of Essex faced off as part of a series of debates presented by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Windsor and District Labour Council.

NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak faced challengers that included PC candidate Chris Lewis, Green Party candidate Nancy Pancheshan and Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga.

Natyshak said “we are on the cusp of change in Ontario” and that “New Democrats believe we don’t have to choose between bad and worse.” He said the NDP has a fully costed plan if elected.

Lewis said that “to say I’m grassroots is an understatement” and that he is “results and action driven.”

“I know what it takes to get the job done,” he said.

Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga

Festeryga acknowledged that the “Liberals aren’t the most popular party in the room right now” but said Liberal policies have led to big gains in the Windsor-Essex region including the unemployment rate dropping below the national average, reductions in small business tax rates and cutting regulations to businesses.

“We could go on forever on what we’re doing for the economy,” she said.

As it relates to agriculture, Lewis said it was an issue “near and dear to me,” adding the PC’s will be the only party to cut the carbon tax. He said he doesn’t claim to have all the answers but he and the PC Party will surround themselves with the right people and “we’ll get the job done.”

Festeryga said she comes from a third generation family farm and criticized PC leader Doug Ford for comments about paving over the green belt as “it’s just farmer’s fields.” She said Liberals have helped cut hydro rates for 500,000 small businesses and farms.

PC candidate Chris Lewis

Pancheshan said the Greens support small businesses and farms and support the promotion of craft breweries and wineries.

Natyshak said “my PC colleague says he doesn’t have the answers because he has no plan whatsoever.” He said the NDP will invest in broadband internet because farms are “high tech” operations. The NDP will also end the rural delivery charges and also will end time-of-use billing, noting it is “ruining” some farm operations. He said while Premier Kathleen Wynne has called the NDP position on energy “a dream,” the Liberal plan is “a nightmare.”

Natyshak added the NDP will buy back Hydro One shares as the party believes hydro should always be in public hands. He accused the PC’s of actually wanting to adopt some of Wynne’s plans regarding energy.

NDP candidate Taras Natyshak (incumbent)

Festeryga said Natyshak voted against the Ontario Fair Hydro Plan and said the NDP plan will not result in any billing decreases as rates are set by the Ontario Energy Board. Lewis said the Green Energy Act is having an adverse effect and is driving business away while Pancheshan said the Greens support not continuing to subsidize big business. The Green platform calls for a long-term energy plan that would see Ontario powered with 100 per cent renewable energy.

Pancheshan said the Greens support the idea of one school board with savings from administration costs passed down to the “front lines” such as students in classrooms. They will also eliminate EQAO testing, something Natyshak said the NDP will do as well.

There is also a failed funding formula in education, Natyshak added, something that has been passed down from as far back as the Mike Harris PC government.

Green Party candidate Nancy Pancheshan

On the health care front, Natyshak said the health system is “chronically underfunded.” Lewis indicated the party will end “hallway healthcare” and that the PC’s will “take care of front line workers” and assist mental health initiatives.

Festeryga indicated there were hospital closures and cuts under both NDP and PC governments while Pancheshan said the Greens want to prioritize front line investment.

The provincial election is June 7.

Natyshak opens campaign office

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

Essex’s incumbent member of provincial parliament is officially on the campaign trail again.

Taras Natyshak, New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, opened his office’s doors to the public Sunday to kick off the campaign season.

The small office, located in the Town of Essex, was packed with Natyshak’s supporters.  A few of them sported T-shirts declaring, “Water is Life,” referencing the MPP’s bout with the Ontario legislature over water quality in Chatham-Kent.

Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak speaks to a group of his supporters in his Essex campaign office last Sunday. Natyshak is up for re-election June 7. He was first elected to the provincial Legislature in 2011.

There, farmers allege wind farms have caused harmful sediment to seep into their well water.  Natyshak brought the farmers’ concerns before the legislature on March 5, only to be ejected from Queen’s Park after producing a jar of black liquid, which he said came from one of the farmers’ wells.  Reports released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs state that no connection between the sediment and the wind farms has been established and, referencing findings by the Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health, contend that the water is safe to drink.

Natyshak stands by the farmers’ allegations, though.  Despite the fact that Chatham-Kent is outside of his riding, he said he will continue to work on the issue.

“It’s not a coincidence,” he said.  “I am fully invested in their fight and will continue fighting with them.”

Some of those affected by the sediment are members of Water Wells First, a group which speaks out against anything it deems harmful to the aquifer present beneath Chatham-Kent.

Water Wells First’s spokesperson is Kevin Jakubec.  He stepped onto a chair and addressed the office.

“I’m here today and our members are here today to thank Taras,” he said.  “He’s been a bulldog on the Ministry of Environment.”

After an impassioned speech, Jakubec stepped down from the chair and Natyshak stepped up.  He said that he cared deeply about the issue of clean drinking water because it’s a health issue, and healthcare is something he is passionate about.

Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec speaks at Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak’s campaign office in Essex on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Natyshak brought the group’s concerns before Queen’s Park. He is now up for re-election. (photo by Jonathan Martin)

He said, if elected, the NDP plans to introduce 15,000 new beds into long-term care over four years and inject an additional 40,000 over eight.  He said adding beds to long-term care would free up space in primary care, which is an issue he feels will become even more pressing as Ontario’s population ages.

Another major topic of focus was the de-privatization of Hydro One.  Natyshak said the provincial NDP plans to take the value of the dividends the government has with its 42 per cent stake and buy back stock in the company.  That way, the public would become a majority owner and could deal with things, he said, such as “executive salaries, which are simply extravagant.”  He vowed to reduce Ontarians’ hydro rates by 30 per cent and eliminate time-of-use billing.

Natyshak said he tabled legislation last week that would refund hydro delivery fees for customers who experienced “frequent outages.”

“That’s a big issue here in Essex County,” he said.  “Hydro, across the whole province, needs to be fixed.  I see the path to do that. Seeing this many people turn out, I think they see it too.”

 

Ramsay, Natyshak hold Christmas open house

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Everyone from community leaders to the general public shared the Christmas spirit with the area’s two elected officials from the upper tiers of government.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak co-hosted a Christmas open house at Ramsey’s office with the New Democrats looking back on 2017 as well as ahead to 2018.

Natyshak said he was able to achieve some legislative highlights provincially, including the bill he tabled to assist flooding victims in the county. Not only does that bill try and take measures to tackle the issue of flooding, but it also helps protect flooding victims from poor treatment from insurance companies.

“That’s something I was pretty proud to have passed,” he said.

Legislation regarding the extension of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for first responders was another achievement. Natyshak pointed out that work involved probation and parole officers, police services and now also includes bailiffs and special constables. Should they suffer from PTSD, it would be presumed they acquired it on the job. Natyshak notes that bailiffs, special constables and those in similar positions often see “horrific scenes” in the duties they are performing for the public and need their mental health needs looked after as well.

Natyshak, first elected in 2011, said just being able to help people is one of the highlights of the job.

“The joy is just being able to serve every day on behalf of the people of Essex,” said Natyshak. “The ability to help individuals is always going to be a powerful and special thing.”

Windsor-Essex County is “the best place in Canada to live,” he believed, and “the reason it is the best is because of the people who live here.

“I’m just so proud to be a part of the community and to represent this community,” he said.

2018 is an provincial election year but aside from that, Natyshak said the area’s economic metrics are improving.

“I think the sky is the limit for this community,” he said.

The vision remains to have quality education, health care and infrastructure and Natyshak believes those can be accomplished by working together.

“There are many highlights for 2017,” stated Ramsey.

The first item she mentioned was being able to bring new federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to the area. One of his recent stops was at an agricultural facility, and Ramsey said agriculture is another one of her highlights for 2017.

“I’m proud of the relationships I’ve built with the agricultural community,” said Ramsey, noting she toured several facilities and farms earlier this year with Natyshak.

Ramsey said she is also proud of the work she has done helping seniors and working with her team to find solutions for their issues. She noted the NDP has a national pharmacare motion tabled in the House of Commons and she is proud of that as well.

Seniors have difficult choices to make, including whether they can afford medical needs such as prescriptions. Dental care for seniors is another issue she wants to work towards.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Essex MP Tracey Ramsey co-hosted a Christmas open house at Ramsey’s office in Essex. The two NDP representatives have offices side-by-side.

Health of the Great Lakes is another file she has worked on and will continue to work on. Ramsey noted there was a tri-level meeting in her office this year on the issue and the work continues to find solutions to such issues as algae blooms and overall health of the lakes.

“Our communities are surrounded by water.”

The re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is something the NDP is carefully watching closely as well, Ramsey noted, adding that she has been sharing the area’s concerns as well as hearing the concerns of others during trips to Mexico and Washington. She said the United States has taken positions that Canada can’t accept but hopes the end result can still be one that is better than the current free trade agreement.

The current agreement doesn’t do enough to protect the environment or working people, she said.

“We’re pushing for a better NAFTA because there are flaws in the agreement that need to be fixed,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey added that she is watching the NAFTA negotiations for things that are important to local residents as well including issues that may impact the flow of people and goods across the border.

The other major highlight for Ramsey was going around the area for Canada 150 celebrations. Whether it was in Amherstburg or elsewhere in the county, Ramsey said she enjoyed seeing how the region celebrated the nation’s 150th birthday

Essex MP finds 2017 federal budget “disappointing”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The release of the 2017 federal budget, which was last Wednesday, hasn’t overly impressed the Member of Parliament for Essex.

Tracey Ramsey said the 2017 budget that the governing Liberal Party presented is largely a rehash of the Liberals’ 2016 budget. She said there is some investment but it is “back-ended” over a ten-year period.

“The budget overall is disappointing,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey said the 2016 budget outlined issues relating to families, and she was hoping for more aid and relief for seniors in the 2017 budget.

“There’s nothing for seniors,” the NDP MP told the River Town Times.

Essex MP

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey

There is also little for small business and rural communities, she added.

“Again, there are campaign promises not coming through.”

Ramsey stated in a press release: ““The Liberals’ infrastructure privatization scheme ignores the needs of rural communities. Essex County needs investments in rail, highways and transit — not more user fees and tolls. Families and the seniors who built our country are deeply concerned about the high cost of living, but this budget does little to build a fair economy that lifts everyone up. The budget also missed a key opportunity to deliver a PACA-type program for produce farmers.”

The Liberals have placed Canada in “a large deficit” and Ramsey stated it is larger than originally anticipated. Promises to create jobs and invest in infrastructure haven’t been materializing like they should.

Full-time, good paying jobs aren’t being created like they should be, said Ramsey.

“Unfortunately the jobs we are seeing are part-time and precarious,” she told the RTT. “People’s lives aren’t improving overall.”

The NDP also wants to see stock option tax loopholes closed, with Ramsey stating that there is “a serious missed opportunity” by not doing that. If such loopholes are closed, more money could be put back into the pockets of seniors, veterans and every other Canadian citizen.

One of the infrastructure needs that has to be looked after is short-line railroads, with Ramsey stating that Essex Terminal Railway (ETR) wants to upgrade some of its rail lines in the area. That includes a line in Amherstburg.

Investing in short-line railroad is “critical to attracting new investment to the region,” said Ramsey.

There is a portion of the 2017 budget devoted to affordable housing, she continued, but much of that is “back-ended” as well. More needs to be done there as well as with child care as solutions need to be found for people in southwestern Ontario.

A “small amount” of cash is devoted to pharmacare but that is “far short” of where it should be, Ramsay added.

There also isn’t a strong enough commitment to the automotive sector, she added, and that the NDP want a federal manufacturing strategy. She said there is a lot of talk in the budget about innovation but no one innovates like the manufacturing industry.

“The NDP would like to see a manufacturing strategy from the government,” she stated.

The budget has “a lot of aspirations, but not a lot of concrete plans,” Ramsey added.