provincial election

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.”

Nancy Pancheshan representing the Green Party in Essex riding



By Ron Giofu


Nancy Pancheshan fought to try and protect lands near Ojibway from a proposed big box development and now she is trying to become the Essex riding’s next MPP.

Pancheshan is the Green Party candidate in the June 7 provincial election and is running against NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak, Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate Chris Lewis and Liberal Kate Festeryga.

“I was trying to protect the Ojibway prairie from a big box development in Windsor,” said Pancheshan. “I saw the lack of political will to protect natural areas.”

Pancheshan believed that to make changes, the area needs people that care about climate change. However, she noted she is more than just a one issue candidate as she stated the Greens have plans for “jobs, people and the planet.”

The Green Party would help small businesses, including increasing the health payroll exemption tax from $450,000 to $1 million. Pancheshan believes the Greens’ plan for small business is the most progressive and will help businesses pay their employees fair wages. The Green Party also will invest in the “clean tech” industry, which Pancheshan said carries an average annual salary of $92,000 and will invest in retrofitting homes and buildings.

“For every $1 million invested in retrofits, 14 new jobs are created,” said Pancheshan, noting similar investments in such things as oil and gas result in “one or two” jobs created.

Pancheshan said the Greens would “stop subsidizing polluters” and turn to cheaper and more efficient energy from Quebec. The gas and oil industry are subsidized to the tune of $1.65 billion, she said, and the Green Party would direct that to other areas.

Green Party candidate Nancy Pancheshan

“We’d take that funding out and invest in hiring nurses and teachers and put people on the front lines,” said Pancheshan.

The Green Party would support farmers who want to sustain natural areas and wetlands. She added they would also help expand broadband internet to assist the agriculture industry while also getting rid of tax penalties and zoning regulations to help with family farms who want to launch businesses, such as breweries or wineries.

Pointing out that PC leader Doug Ford wants to cut gas prices by ten cents per litre, Pancheshan believed it will result in a loss of revenue to service the province’s debt and then actually add to it when federal Liberals roll out a carbon tax in 2019.

Pancheshan said CEO salaries, citing Hydro One as an example, while be reduced with the Green platform calling for CEO salaries not to exceed that of the premier.

The Greens also call for the amalgamation of school boards, as Pancheshan pointed out only Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have multiple school boards. She noted in British Columbia, there is one system with student performance being higher than that in Ontario.

“Education accounts for 18 per cent of our spending,” she said, adding reducing administrative costs would help provide more money for the classrooms.

Pancheshan also stated the Green Party will commit $4.1 billion to mental health and addiction treatments, including hiring people to work in schools to assist students. Natural areas also play a part, she said, as walking in green areas can have a positive impact on mental health.

“The Green Party has a ‘tree hugger’ persona but we have a plan detailing how we’re going to pay for it,” she said.

Pancheshan encourages people to not only get out and vote in the June 7 election, but to vote for what they believe in. She said during her canvassing, people she has encountered don’t trust the Liberals and some “think Mr. Ford is a mini-Trump.” They said if people believe in reducing subsidies to polluters and in a green future, they should vote in her direction.

“I’m shocked by the PC plan. They have no plan,” said Pancheshan. “What kind of business runs like that? No successful business runs like that. The party with the ‘tree hugger’ persona has a better plan than the Conservatives”

Pancheshan added the debt has swelled to $269 billion under the Liberals with $11 billion being last year’s debt.

“People need to vote what they believe in,” she added. “That’s what democracy is all about.”



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.”


Former Essex MP lends support to provincial Essex PC candidate



By Ron Giofu


As Chris Lewis tries to paint the Essex riding blue provincially, his campaign got the support of someone who did it federally.

Former Essex MP Jeff Watson and his wife Sarah were back in Amherstburg on the weekend to support Lewis, who is the Progressive Conservative candidate in the June 7 provincial election. The former MP, who served from 2004-15, now lives with his family in Calgary and is working to support Jason Kenney in Kenney’s bid to unite the two conservative parties there and re-take control of the government in that province.

Former Essex MP Jeff Watson raises the arm of Progressive Conservative candidate Chris Lewis during a rally May 11 at the AMA Sportsmen Association.

“I’ve spent the better part of the last year criss-crossing Alberta trying to bring two political parties together,” said Watson.

Watson said he has been friends with Lewis for several years and came back to bolster the local PC candidate. He said “it’s time for Kathleen Wynne to go” and said the premier and her Liberal Party is a government “well past its prime.”

Watson predicted there would be “significant challenges” for Ontarians going forward if the Doug Ford-led PC Party doesn’t win and said people have to think about the change they want, believing Conservative is the way to go.

“We have the right kind of change, change that will work for people,” said Watson.

Acknowledging the NDP has swept federal and provincial ridings in recent elections, Watson questioned what has become since then as he took aim at incumbent MPP Taras Natyshak. Watson brought flash cards and rallied the crowd at the AMA Sportsmen Club Friday night that read “Beat Natyshak” and tied the NDP candidate’s name to higher debt, electricity costs and taxes.

Accusing Natyshak of being a “do nothing,” Watson asked “what has he done for his $130,000 salary? Jack. Nothing.”

Believing Ford is well on his way to victory, Watson said the riding needs “someone who brings something to the table.” He said he represents the past “but it’s guys like Chris Lewis that represent your future.”

Lewis, a former Kingsville councillor and firefighter, believes the party is on the verge of something special locally.

Former Essex MP Jeff Watson holds up a flashcard suggesting that re-electing Taras Natyshak would
result in higher provincial debt. Watson was at
a Friday night rally in support of PC candidate Chris Lewis (right).

“We are on the cusp of something historic and remarkable,” he said. “The winds of change are finally here. We know we are on the NDP’s radar.”

According to Lewis, the PC’s have gained 23 points on the NDP locally and “are basically in a statistical tie. When is the last time a conservative in Essex could say that?”

Lewis said he will not partake in any mudslinging but will hold people accountable. Highway 3 will get widened if he is elected, Lewis predicted, as “the only reason it’s not fixed now is because you don’t have a voice at the table”

The province is $312 billion in debt and worried about his children’s futures and how they would pay that off. He used that as a rallying cry for younger voters.

“If we can engage our youth, we are going to be successful,” said Lewis.

Lewis said he brings no baggage to Queen’s Park and questioned Natyshak’s involvement with the Water Wells First group in Chatham-Kent, stating “things in Essex need taking care of.”