The circle is now complete. On Monday night, the provincial electoral district of Guelph now has a full slate of major party candidates for the spring provincial election with the acclimation of James Parr as the New Democratic candidate. Parr, and special guests, promised that the NDP is ready and set to win Queen’s Park on June 2.
“Right now, locally and globally, we are at a crossroads. There are multiple issues facing Ontario and Guelph that I believe only the NDP can tackle,” Parr said at the party’s virtual nomination meeting on Monday night. “We have an opportunity here to learn from the last few years and build an equitable and sustainable government for all Ontarians.”
Parr is a mechanical engineer with deep Guelph roots; his grandfather was a minister at Dublin Street United Church, his grandmother was a nurse that helped establish Hospice Wellington, and his father’s been in the Rotary Club of Guelph for 20 years and been involved in a number of community activities. Parr said he’s dedicated to the family tradition of community service, and the idea that communities are built and fostered by people.
“I want to run a positive campaign about progressive issues. We will debate policy and platform points, not attack people, and I want to be held accountable to this promise,” Parr said. “I do understand that my job will be to represent all the people in the city, and I’m looking forward to talking to this community in the coming weeks to understand what affects you.”
Parr already has some idea about what’s affecting people. He talked about the need to fight climate change, create housing affordability, increase the provincial minimum wage to $20, and to protect and expand publicly-funded healthcare.
“Ontarians have always been proud of our publicly funded health care system, and now is not the time to throw in the towel and privatize it. Now is the time to double down and properly fund and staff healthcare in Ontario,” Parr said. “We need to make sure that quality health care is accessible to all Ontarians, and not just the wealthy. This includes mental health services, pharmacare and dental care.”
One of the special guests at the meeting was NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who was notably phrased by the organizers of the nomination meeting as “the next Premier of Ontario.” Horawth told the virtual meeting that the province-wide team of New Democrats are ready to make a breakthough this election as a third path between disastrous runs by both Liberal and Conservative governments.
“For decades, Liberals and Conservatives didn’t make the investments that people deserved, and failed to ensure that the services folks need are there so that they can build a good life in our province,” Horwath said. “We know whose priority Doug Ford has in mind: The uber wealthy, his well-connected buddies, the big corporations, and that’s just not going to be a good enough for Ontarians.
“We deserve so much better than that, so here in Guelph we’re going to do what we always do, which is build a winning team and nominate a fantastic candidate,” Horwath added.
The other guest speaker was a man who has experience running as Guelph’s provincial NDP candidate, twice. City Councillor James Gordon noted that the relationship between municipalities and Ontario government has been uneasy for the last four years, which is why he’s hoping for a new government at Queen’s Park who’s interested in being a true partner with the province’s cities.
“Since this provincial government has done so little for our general well being, I hear every year at municipal conferences that we’ll just have to do it ourselves at a city level.” Gordon said. “Unfortunately, in too many cases, we can’t really move forward with city initiatives without provincial participation, which is why it’s extra important to elect an NDP government in June.”
“I can’t do my job as a councillor unless Ford is removed from his job. It is that simple,” Gordon said.
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is the current Member of Provincial Parliament for Guelph, and he will be standing for re-election this spring. Guelph Community Health CEO Raechelle Devereux will be the Liberal candidate and employment lawyer Peter McSherry is the Progressive Conservative candidate, both of who were acclaimed last summer.
The odds? Guelph’s NDP candidate in 2018, Aggie Mlynarz, finished in a strong third place with just a 0.24 per cent, or a 155 vote difference between her and the second place candidate, Ray Ferraro of the PCs. It was the strongest showing for a Guelph NDP candidate since Derek Fletcher won in the orange wave that ushered Bob Rae to power in 1990. Schreiner made his historic win in Guelph with 45.04 per cent of the vote.
James Parr will appear in an episode of Open Sources Guelph for his first full-length interview as a candidate on Thursday March 24 at 5 pm on CFRU 93.3 fm or cfru.ca!