Progressive Conservative

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.

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.

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.