Peter McSherry’s got his work cut out for him. As the elected nominee for the Progressive Conservative Party in Guelph, he might have the advantage with his party currently sitting in government offices, but Mike Schreiner got more than twice the number of votes as McSherry’s predecessor in 2018. So can the mild-manned employment lawyer make a case for Guelph to go from Green to Blue?
“It’s not really about me, and it’s not really about any of the other candidates either. It’s about giving the citizens of Guelph the opportunity to vote for the kind of government they want, and the priorities that suits them for the next four years,” McSherry told Open Sources Guelph last week. “I feel comfortable taking the position that Doug Ford and the PCs are providing the options and the path forward that’s best for Guelph.”
McSherry himself has worked as an employment lawyer in Guelph for the last 15 years, and in his off hours, he’s been very active in the community as a member of the Rotary and the Kiwanis Clubs, as a board member for Bracelet of Hope, and as vice-chair of the Guelph Police Services Board. Public service, McSherry said, is what he’s all about.
“I really believe in helping people and serving the community, and I’ve always seen the law as a way to help people,” McSherry said. “My practice is primarily about helping individuals deal with some of the toughest times they have, when they lose their employment and are worried about what comes next. I just really want to help people and make sure that systems in place work for people rather than the people work for the systems.”
Working in the government system, McSherry’s got his eye on several issues including healthcare, which the candidate notes has been a big issue during the pandemic. More than just the need for healthcare, McSherry noted that the pandemic has undermined faith in the healthcare system, which has led to more than a little friction in our social cohesion.
“I think what you’ve seen during COVID is that it’s made us realize that when people feel threatened and that their healthcare isn’t there for them or their family, that people really break down and conflict comes and we just can’t allow that to ever happen,” McSherry explained.
“In Guelph, healthcare has been on the back burner for too long. We need a new hospital desperately, our emergency room was built for half the population that we have now, so what sense does that give people that their healthcare is there for them?” he added. “I really think that pushing for more healthcare needs an MPP who’s on the inside track with the Doug Ford Conservative team, and doing everything they can to make sure this community gets a new hospital.”
That’s perhaps one of the best selling points for electing McSherry, a seat at the table. Being seen, McSherry said, is a priority if Guelph is to achieve the goal of getting provincial support for key projects.
“I think we need to realize that there’s a lot of other communities working on this too,” he said. “We haven’t pushed this through the system at Queen’s Park the way that other communities have, and we’ve gotten left behind. We need somebody at Queen’s Park, who’s going to be in the government side, pushing every step of the way to make sure [the hospital] happens.”
In other words, McSherry wants to look forward, not backward this election.
“People are wanting to know what comes next, you know, they feel like they’ve sacrificed for the last two years and after that uncertainty they’re looking for somebody with a sense of direction, and who’s going to help improve their lives and the lives of those they care about,” he said.
Still, one can’t quite escape the past. COVID-19 remains the reality, and we don’t know what state we’re going to be in when the election campaign arrives in a couple of months. McSherry is hopeful, but safety is his number one priority.
“I think anybody who decides not to put the safety of their citizens first is going to be at a competitive disadvantage,” he said. “I certainly think that warmer weather is coming, it looks like everything is settling down and is rapidly returning to normal, but politics is a one-on-one business, it’s a high trust business, people have to know you, like you and trust you in order to feel comfortable telling you what’s really on their mind.”