TORONTO - The anticipation builds for an exciting campaign ahead of the 2022 Ontario general election (June 2). With less than five weeks to go before election day, candidates are hitting the campaign trail to reach out to constituents in their ridings and build support for their political party.
One such riding is that of York South–Weston (YSW). Historically, the community has elected Liberal and NDP candidates to represent the district. It appears constituents have an appetite to host a conservative candidate with some potential.
That candidate is Michael Ford, who stopped by the Corriere to discuss his decision to run in this election. The following is an edited version of the interview (for the purpose of brevity) - click here to download the page.
Walking into a riding that has never had a Conservative win is quite a challenge. Why did you decide to run as the conservative candidate in YSW?
This is a community I know well. My family and I have grown up in this neighbourhood. This riding needs strong representation with someone in government that can move things forward in a collaborative approach with the community.
Name recognition can be a useful tool. How do you intend to convince electors, who may be looking to place their support with another party, to vote for you and the PC?
My approach and my family’s approach to politics has never been a “conservative” approach. Yes, there are some fundamental conservative beliefs, but we take a broad approach in serving the community. For the last six years as city councillor, I have a strong proven track record of being accessible to my constituents. My approach is founded in customer service and that the residents of the community are number one. When they need you, you have to be there for them.
This riding has a strong Italian community presence. How do you intend to convey your message to this community and the others that make up the district?
I am proud of my Italian heritage and I am open to communicating with all ethnic community groups. That is why I am here. If any constituent identifies an important issue, I try to work with them along side them to achieve a solution.
YSW residents have a long tradition of personal service, some would say “blue collar” or the “working class”. How do you propose to be a part of the mix among workers, unions and the government?
Labour is essential to the economy and the vitality of the community and the City. Speaking with constituents in the riding, I know they are fed up with talking points that support “blue collar” workers but do little about it. The Ford Government is one that people can trust to get the economy back and even stronger than what it was before Covid.
Many businesses did not survive the Covid lockdowns. How can you ensure that Ontario stays “Open for Business”?
We need to take the approach of rebuilding the economy through job creation. This helps benefit the residents of YSW and the greater community. We need to avoid future lockdowns that have proven unsustainable to some local businesses. Understanding what they need in order to thrive is essential.
How do you intend to promote opportunities for businesses and jobs in the neighbourhood?
On a government level, things like helping reduce red tape for businesses to get necessary permits, investing in the development of small to medium sized businesses and being innovative are some of the ways we can work together to help drive employment opportunities in the district.
Ontario has an aging population. What plans do you foresee for the healthcare of seniors in the community?
I am open to identifying and exploring healthcare opportunities for the residents of YSW. Long term care is a big part of the Government’s plan moving forward and addressing the significant issues the sector has experienced. I would welcome a LTC plan in the neighbourhood, like the transition of the area around the old hospital on Church St. to an institution for LTC or education , if the community expresses an interest in it.
Speaking of education, the City is working with George Brown College to explore opportunities for a new satellite campus in the Mount Dennis neighbourhood of YSW. Do you support this initiative?
This is a great initiative in that it encourages a greater academic presence in the community. I have spoken with the local City councillor on this matter and I am fully committed to seeing this project through in the event I am elected as MPP.
Thank you and good luck in the campaign.
P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter