Ontario Liberal Party

Kate Festeryga carrying banner for Liberals in Essex riding

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Liberal Party has its candidate for the June 7 provincial election

Kate Festeryga has been nominated and will be the Liberal candidate in the Essex riding. If the name Festeryga is familiar, it is because her mother Audrey ran federally in the riding three years ago.

Festergya was nominated last week and she is pleased with her campaign thus far.

“We’re really happy with how things are unfolding,” she said. “I’m happy with how things are going.”

Festeryga said she has worked at Queen’s Park the last few years, in both the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth and at the Ministry of Energy. While noting that young females coming forward “is a very difficult thing to do,” the 26-year-old Festergya said she knows she has the knowledge base and vision and decided to put her name out there and run.

“I wanted to make sure our community was heard and I was making a difference,” she said.

When Doug Ford was elected as leader of the Progressive Conservative (PC) party, Festeryga said that also led her to want to run.

“This wasn’t something I could let happen,” she said. “I couldn’t sit back and not be fully involved in this election. I made the decision to put my name on the ballot instead of working behind the scenes.”

Festergya said the reception she has been receiving has been positive thus far.

“The reception in the community has been wonderful,” she said. “The community is excited about a fresh voice for the community.”

Believing the Liberals have the best plan for the economy, Festeryga said the New Democrats’ plan has many elements that have already been done by the Liberals while the PC’s don’t have a plan.

“We’re doing all the things Doug Ford said he is going to do,” said Festeryga. She added the NDP plan is “an outdated economic plan that doesn’t make sense for what Ontario is and what it is going to be.”

Festeryga said the Liberals have stood up for the auto industry, brought down the unemployment rate and removed over 800 regulations in an effort to grow the economy.

The issue of energy costs was addressed, with Festeryga stating the Liberals have made substantial investment in the area. She noted the grid hadn’t been invested in prior to the 2003 blackout so the Liberals invested in it, got into green energy and got off “dirty coal,” the latter being a major climate change initiative, Festergya stated.

“We really are leading the way in green energy and Windsor-Essex played a role in that,” she said.

The investments landed on people’s energy bills, she noted and people said it was too much, too soon so the Ontario Fair Hydro Act came about and Festergya said Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak was opposed. She said that has seen cuts to hydro bills.

Liberal candidate Kate Festeryga

During the Liberals time in office, there have been no smog days and $4 billion saved in health care costs, said Festeryga.

The NDP plan for energy won’t work, she believed, as buying back Hydro One shares “will not impact bills a single cent” and will cost taxpayers $8 billion. The PC’s aren’t any better, she added.

“When we look at the energy sector, the PC’s and NDP have regressive policies,” said Festeryga.

Health care is another big issue for Festeryga and she said there are $12 billion in cuts projected if the Doug Ford-led PC Party comes into power. That makes her question the future of the mega-hospital project as that amount of cuts “means the mega-hospital is on the verge of being on the chopping block.”

The Liberal Party has increased funding for Windsor and Leamington hospitals two per cent, she added, as well as adding 700 long-term care beds within the Erie Shores LHIN. The Liberals are assisting with more mental health initiatives and child care spaces as well, she stated. Regarding the latter, Festeryga said the PC’s propose $175 per year for families (“It’s not a plan.”) while the NDP plan does not address capacity issues.

“If a woman can’t get back into the workplace because of childcare, they are not fully participating,” she said.

Festeryga pointed out there have also been investments in education, noting new and renovated schools and the support of a tech hub in this area. She also criticized Ford’s stance on agriculture, stating he wanted to pave over the green belt because “it’s just farmland.” She said the area is rich in agriculture and produces a lot of great produce.

While the Liberals are in third place in most polls, Festeryga said that is “not reflective of what’s going on in Ontario.” Projections of only two seats for the party “is just not going to happen” and compared it to the United States where polls showed Donald Trump losing only to have him win the White House. That was painful for Festeryga, who noted she worked on the campaign for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Once you get rid of the noise, you realize things aren’t that bad. Things are going well,” she said. “I’m not going to worry about polls.”

“It’s going to be an interesting election in Essex,” Festeryga continued. “It’s the one to watch for sure.”