Taras Natyshak

NDP hold community Christmas party, look forward to the new year



By Christian Bouchard


Children were the spotlight of a community Christmas party.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, MP and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak hosted a children’s community Christmas party on Saturday at the Knights of Columbus in Amherstburg.

With over 100 people in attendance, the three-hour event welcomed guests to face painting, balloon animals, pizza and even a meet and greet with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.

According to Ramsey, the NDP office in Essex do a Christmas open house every year for adults only. After noticing, she decided to host an event in Amherstburg for the children.

“It was really just an opportunity for families to come together and have a fun event before the holidays,” said Ramsey. “It was nice to see the kids enjoying themselves. Any time we can give back to the communities we serve we are always thrilled to do that.”

Both Ramsey and Natyshak were in attendance and to answer any political questions by the guests on hand.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (centre), Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (not pictured) and their teams held a Christmas party at the Columbus Community Hall recently.

Ramsey listed off her goals for the upcoming year but said her biggest was to have the government help people who feel they’re in a vulnerable position.

“There are families and seniors across our county who are struggling and workers at Canada Post who are forced back to work,” said Ramsey.

According to Ramsey, the Trudeau liberal government is good at rewarding corporations and making sure big businesses get taken cared of. However, she would like to see the see the same for everyone in the Essex-County communities.

The local MP claims she is always looking for a way to improve peoples lives and listed other areas of focus for the new year.

“In our county, we are suffering under the opioid crisis,” said Ramsey. “I’d like to see the Federal government declare a national public health emergency to address the issues.”

Ramsey also said advocating for farm families, addressing affordable housing and removing the steel and aluminum tariffs is all part of her 2019 goals of looking for the federal government to find a solution to protect jobs in Southwestern Ontario.






McGregor Columbian Club celebrates Ontario Trillium Grant



By Ron Giofu


Upgrades have been steadily occurring at the McGregor Columbian Club and the latest round was celebrated last Friday night.

The McGregor Columbian Club, which operates what was formerly known as the McGregor Knights of Columbus Hall, received a $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation earlier this year and used it to complete a heating and cooling project that also included new technology such as Wi-Fi-controlled thermostats.

“We put on six new units,” explained McGregor Columbian Club president Evan Belanger.

The project began May 1 and recently concluded, and the Friday night celebration was to celebrate the completion. The McGregor Columbian Club was recognized by both Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Ontario Trillium Foundation grant review team member Dan Allen.

McGregor Columbian Club president Evan Belanger (centre) accepts a plaque from OTF grant review team member Dan Allen (left) and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak in recognition of a successfully completed project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Natyshak thanked the club and the volunteers therein for their hard work.

“That impact goes a long way,” he said.

Noting the other work done at the McGregor Columbian Club over the years, Natyshak added that the impact of that makes places like McGregor more liveable and workable for people and praised their efforts.

Allen said the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has invested roughly $4 million since 2015 in Essex, Kent and Lambton counties. He said the McGregor Columbian Club was given their $150,000 grant under the OTF’s “Connected People” initiative, noting that the club is a place where the public is welcomed and is an accessible place to enjoy.

“We awarded you with the grant because we were confident you would get the work done in no time and we were right,” Allen told Belanger.

Belanger stated that “we have a dedicated board” that volunteers at the McGregor Columbian Club. He said projects were done in 2016-17 to make the club more accessible including upgrading doorways and washrooms. The club also put in new LED lighting in the parking lot of the Walker Road facility.

More work is planned for the future, Belanger stated.

“The parking lot is very, very old,” he said, “including the drainage underneath.”

The roof is also due for replacement as Belanger pointed out it is over 30-years-old and has had leaks to it patched.

OTF grant review team member Dan Allen and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak celebrated the completion of a project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundatin. From left: Peter Misfud, Frank Van Der Pryt, Dan Allen, Robin Beaune, Neil Renaud, Dale Martin, Evan Belanger, Taras Natyshak.

The McGregor Columbian Club is also looking to upgrade its business practices, including the acquisition of new debit and credit machines. There have also been efforts to acquire new point of sale systems to better track inventory and analyze their business.

“There are always projects on the go,” said Belanger.

The McGregor Columbian Club regularly hosts bingos, with bingo sessions being held every Tuesday night and turkey basket bingos on Sunday. They host a beanbag league every Thursday and also host regular events for Community Living Essex County, Alhambra Garcia Caravan #230 and the Katelyn Bedard Bone Marrow Association. There are also charitable contributions, which Belanger said includes a recent donation of over 1,500 canned goods to the Society St. Vincent de Paul and the free turkey dinner that is being offered Dec. 16 from 3:30-6 p.m. The latter will likely see 700-800 free turkey dinners served.

The McGregor Columbian Club has about 70 volunteers and ten employees, Belanger added.


Harrow Fair presented for 164th time



By Ron Giofu


A Labour Day weekend tradition continued in Harrow for the 164th time last weekend.

The Harrow Fair ran last Thursday through Sunday with such events as the pie auction, parade, 4-H Club competitions, the midway and more keeping people busy over the four days. Luke Korcok, the president of the Harrow Fair board, thanked not only the public for attending but the committee members and the volunteers for helping out.

“A lot of hours have been put in to make sure we have a successful festival,” said Korcok, adding preparations for the 2019 Harrow Fair are already underway.

Home craft director Rose McLean also thanked the volunteers as well as those who attended.

Sarah Parks waves to the crowd during the Harrow Fair Parade Sept. 1.

“If you people didn’t come out, there would be no reason to have the Harrow Fair,” she told the crowd at Thursday night’s opening ceremonies.

McLean added that roughly 6,000 volunteer hours were spent organizing the Harrow Fair.

“What a tradition – the Harrow Fair,” commented Essex Mayor Ron McDermott.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak brings greetings during the opening ceremony of the Harrow Fair. The 164th annual fair runa from Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

McDermott, who is not seeking re-election this fall, said it has been his honour to represent his ratepayers as mayor for 15 years and welcome people to the fair.

“It’s been my honour and privilege to thank you for everything you’ve done with the Harrow Fair,” McDermott told organizers.

Warden Tom Bain said it is an event for the entire county to enjoy.

“I think if you are a good county person, you’ve got to go to the fair,” said Bain. “If you want to have fun, you go to the fair. It’s a great family event.”

A quartet of women take a ride during the Harrow Fair parade Sept. 1.

In addition to also thanking the volunteers, Essex MP Tracey Ramsey also thanked those who bid on pies in the pie auction, as all proceeds went to the John McGivney Centre in Windsor.

“I love coming to the fair. I’ve been coming to the fair my whole life,” said Ramsey. “It takes an army of people to make such an event successful.”

Ramsey pointed out the fair has been a multi-generational affair and one that helps promote the health of the community and bolster the economy.

“It’s a wonderful tradition,” added Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. “It kicks off the end of the summer.”

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.”